When Marcelo Gallardo was asked who were the favourites for the Copa Superliga last week, the River Plate managed cited his own side, Superliga champions Racing Club and the quarter final rivals Boca Juniors and Vélez Sarsfield. That may still be the case but River and Racing have plenty to do on Tuesday evening after suffering first leg defeats to Atlético Tucumán and Tigre respectively.
Racing made the relatively short trip north across Buenos Aires to Victoria but a below-par performance was punished by a Tigre side that despite being relegated continue to display the type of form associated with a side challenging for honours rather than one destined for the Nacional B.
A first half of few clear chances was instead punctuated with a number of questionable refereeing decisions with Tigre feeling they should have been ahead and Racing arguing that the hosts should have been down to ten men. Federico González saw his goal disallowed for an offside against a seemingly inactive Lucas Janson and Lucas Menossi only saw yellow for a studs-up challenge on Nery Domínguez.
It wouldn’t take long after the break for Tigre to find a breakthrough and it came as no real surprise that it was the rejuvenated Walter Montillo involved. The 35-year-old has been in sensational form since Néstor Gorosito took over and slipped the challenge of Lucas Orban to clip the ball past Gabriel Arias.
There was little response from Racing and instead two minutes from time, Menossi wriggled away from the attention of five defenders and as the ball eventually worked its way to Federico González, the centre forward doubled the lead.
Captain Lisandro López didn’t hold back in his criticism of the Racing performance and after coming off the bench in the second half, the fit again striker will be vital if La Academia stage a comeback on Tuesday.
Tigre 2 – 0 Racing Club
It wasn’t only Racing who were far from their best as Copa Libertadores champions River Plate suffered a 3-0 defeat to Atlético Tucumán.
An even first half was interrupted by a quick-fire double that put Atlético firmly in control shortly before the break. David Barbona cut in off the right flank and after exchanging passes with Leandro Díaz sprung open a static River backline to volley past Franco Armani. The visitors were still reacting to that 35th minute opener when a corner from the right was flicked on at the near post and Javier Toledo headed in a second.
River pushed forward in search of a way back into the game after half time and came close when a scramble in the Atlético penalty box eventually saw Exequiel Palacios have a goal-bound shot blocked a few yards out but it was the home side who would find the net once more.
So reliable since his arrival from Atlético Nacional, Franco Armani made a rare error in spilling Ramiro Carrera’s low shot and Toledo gratefully gobbled up the rebound.
If there is one side that shouldn’t be counted out in such situations it is Marcelo Gallardo’s River but it will take an outstanding performance to overturn the result on Tuesday if the Millonarios are to take a place in the semi finals.