For all of Marcelo Gallardo’s titles, River Plate’s most decorated coach has never led the Millonarios to a league title. On Saturday night in Mendoza his side defeated a game but limited Godoy Cruz side and with it moved three points clear at the top of the Superliga.
Often viewed as something to a distraction to the more important Copa Libertadores, this season’s short championship and the fact that no other side has really found any consistency has left River only six games from lifting the trophy.
It took River 16 minutes to find their way in front against Godoy Cruz, Nicolás De La Cruz receiving the ball back after his free-kick had hit the wall and crossing for Matías Suárez to head past Rodrigo Rey.
From that point the result never really looked in doubt but River’s wastefulness in front of goal did at least keep it interesting.
Last week against Independiente, leading scorer Rafael Santos Borré had two chances and took them emphatically; on Saturday, Milton Casco, Gonzalo Montiel and the Colombian striker were all guilty of wasting chances.
Three points is hardly an insurmountable lead but River’s six-game run-in looks kind and with the title in sight, Gallardo’s side can apply the sort of focus and drive that has made them so formidable in cup competitions.
Godoy Cruz 0 – 1 River Plate
Earlier in Bajo Flores, former River Plate and Argentina midfielder Javier Mascherano made his return to Argentinian football but couldn’t inspire Estudiantes to victory over San Lorenzo.
The 35-year-old picked up his first yellow card in 20 minutes and was then reminded of some of the quirks of South American football as a power cut plunged the Nuevo Gasómetro into darkness. For much of the game this was the major talking point such was the lack of action on the pitch.
That changed just after the hour mark when a fine passage of play from the home team eventually worked its way to full-back Bruno Pittón and the former Unión defender turned prolific goalscorer tapped in his sixth of the season.
The lead didn’t last long though, Mascherano floated a ball over the top and Fabricio Coloccini was caught napping to allow Mateo Retegui to poke the ball past Sebastián Torrico.
Neither side could find a winner but after positive transfer windows they will be expecting improvements in the coming weeks.
San Lorenzo 1 – 1 Estudiantes
It also ended all-square in Sarandí between Arsenal and Newell’s Old Boys, a result that keeps Sergio Rondina’s promoted side comfortably placed in seventh and La Lepra just above the relegation zone.
A wonderful Fernando Torrent strike gave Arsenal the lead but was cancelled out shortly before half time by a Maxi Rodríguez penalty after the veteran forward forced a handball in the box.
Arsenal have already ensured their safety and Newell’s should have more than enough to avoid relegation but in a precarious position still have work to do.
Colón should be more concerned after a woeful league return in 2019 continued into the new year with defeat to rivals Central Córdoba in a baking Santiago del Estero.
The visitors looked likely to leave with a point until stoppage time when a shove in the back of Jonathan Herrera gave Central Córdoba the chance to win it. Herrera, a target for Independiente in the window, made no mistake in blasting the ball past Leonardo Burián and with it the Ferroviario are out of the drop zone dreaming of an extended stay in the top flight.