The hangover from beating eternal rivals Boca Juniors to the Copa Libertadores took its toll on River Plate. First came a surprise defeat to Al-Ain in the Club World Cup and when the new year came round, three consecutive home defeats wasted all those games in-hand that the Millonarios had accumulated during 2018. A midweek trip to Mendoza to face Godoy Cruz looked on paper to be another potential stumbling block for Marcelo Gallardo’s side but a return to form saw River blow away their hosts in a four-goal blitz.
Without the injured Juan Fernando Quintero, the concern would have been a lack of creativity and yet Lucas Pratto, Rafael Santos Borré and debutant Matías Suárez wrapped up a comfortable away victory.
An early Juan Andrada rattling off the woodwork was a scare for Gallardo’s wounded side but soon after Exequiel Palacios slipped in Pratto and the number nine smashed the ball past Roberto Ramírez.
River never looked back. An incorrect offside decision denied Santos Borré his side’s second only for a handball by Nahuel Arena to allow the Colombian to score from the spot and when Tomás Cardona was sent off for a dangerously high boot after 33 minutes, Godoy Cruz’s hopes were over.
Milton Casco crossed for Pratto to nod in his second and while River could have perhaps scored five or six, it was left to Matías Suárez to wrap up the win. The new signing left Facundo Cobos sprawling before tucking the ball past Ramírez and while the forward apologised at full-time to Belgrano supporters for his exit, River have added that extra attacker that was badly needed.