The Copa Argentina has thrown up a number of upsets this season but River Plate ensured the final went exactly as was expected with a 3-0 win over Central Córdoba in Mendoza.
For any talk of possible complacency, River’s motivation was clear. Not only was Marcelo Gallardo looking to add his eleventh title as River manager and bounce back from the painful Copa Libertadores final defeat but victory secured a place in the 2020 group stages rather than the potentially tricky qualifying rounds.
Despite that Central Córdoba had the better of the opening exchanges and were it not for two excellent stops by Franco Armani may have taken a shock lead.
Jonathan Herrera had been causing the River backline problems and had a huge shout for a penalty waved away after Javier Pinola tentatively left a leg in his path. And it was within minutes of this incident that River took control.
Ignacio Scocco escaped the attention of the Central Córdoba defence and although Diego Rodríguez saved the River striker’s initial effort, the rebound was turned in.
There was little of the back and forth of the opening 45 minutes after the break and when Scocco exchanged passes with Ignacio Fernández for the latter to slot in a wonderful second after 67 minutes the result was effectively confirmed.
Fernández, who said he would decide his future after the game, almost immediately turned provider for the third with a burst into the penalty area before squaring the ball for substitute Julián Álvarez to tap in and that really was game over.
Supporters and teammates made their feelings clear at full-time over whether Fernández should look for a new challenge and Marcelo Gallardo was adamant that the midfielder won’t be going anywhere for less than his release clause of $15 million. At 29 and perhaps a last chance for a pay-day it remains to be seen whether the influential Nacho will agree.
However for now it’s another title and a great end to 2019 for River. The Libertadores might have ended in an agonising defeat but group stage qualification secured, top of the Superliga should they win a game in hand and Copa Argentina champions isn’t a bad return. With Gallardo confirming his stay, there are no signs that it is the end of the road for his crop of players and so even more will be expected in 2020.