River Plate and Boca Juniors experienced contrasting fortunes in the Copa Libertadores this week and although both giants focus on their upcoming semi final second legs, Los Millonarios celebrated victory over Aldosivi while the Superliga champions slipped to defeat against Gimnasia.
Aldosivi were the visitors to the Monumental, where River suffered a damaging defeat to Grêmio only days earlier, and although Marcelo Gallardo understandably opted to rest the majority of his first choice eleven, River’s second string did enough to pick up three points.
There were few moments of quality but that was more than made up for by Cristian Ferreira’s winner. The 19-year-old had replaced Nicolás de la Cruz during the first half and ensured it was an afternoon to remember ten minutes after the break, nutmegging an opponent before unleashing an unstoppable 30-yard shot into the top corner.
Aldosivi had seen defender Leonel Galeano sent off for a second booking moments earlier and although Lucas Martínez Quarta levelled things up, seeing red for a somewhat wild challenge on Federico Gino, the visitors were unable to find an equaliser.
River climbed to fourth with the win but Marcelo Gallardo takes his squad to Brazil this week knowing that success and failure is judged on the result against Grêmio.
River Plate 1 – 0 Aldosivi
Boca Juniors conversely have one foot in the Copa Libertadores final after a first leg victory over Palmeiras but Guillermo Barros Schelotto was unable to get a victory from his second-string side against one of his former clubs, Gimnasia.
Given the strength of Boca’s squad there can be few excuses for defeat against a Gimnasia side battling against relegation.
However, for all the strength of a team still able to field Carlos Tevez, Fernando Gago and Edwin Cardona, Gimnasia started far brighter and deservedly led. Horacio Tijanovich should already have given El Lobo the lead by the time that Lorenzo Faravelli arrived late in the penalty box to fire past Agustín Rossi.
Cristian Espinoza given a rare opportunity but showing glimpses of the quality that once saw him star for Argentina under-20s fired Boca level before the break but straight after the restart Gimnasia regained the lead. A cross from the right found Tijanovich and his header across goal was tapped in by Maximiliano Comba.
Guillermo Barros Schelotto threw on Ramón Ábila with half an hour remaining in an effort to salvage something but Boca never really looked like troubling the home side. The midweek game in São Paulo is all that matters and lifting the Copa Libertadores remains the ultimate prize yet in the meantime, their Superliga title defence looks increasingly unlikely.