The thread bare squad of fringe players and academy youngsters that River Plate took to Ecuador was evidence that the Copa Libertadores was for once taking a backseat as the club seek to wrap up the Superliga title on Saturday and Liga de Quito took full advantage.
The Ecuadorians began Group D with a well deserved 3-0 victory in the knowledge that no other side will face a River side as weak as the one assistant Matías Biscay took to the Estadio Rodrigo Paz Delgado.
Cristian Ferreira clipping the crossbar early on was about as good as it got for River for as soon as Franklin Guerra crashed home a header after quarter of an hour the result didn’t look in doubt.
With pressure from the home side increasing Cristian Martínez Borja eventually slid in a second and on another night the burly centre forward could have had a hat-trick.
River improved slightly after the break with Julián Álvarez getting closer to Lucas Pratto in support but the game was put beyond doubt 20 minutes from time. Goalkeeper Enrique Bologna was sent off for a handball outside his 18-yard box and swiftly after a handball against Bruno Zuculini saw Junior Sornoza beat substitute keeper Germán Lux from the spot.
Given the team selection it was no real surprise to end in defeat and should River lift the Superliga title on Saturday it will be worth it. Binacional are the visitors to the Monumental next week, probably the easiest game of Group D and Marcelo Gallardo will be expecting his newly crowned league champions to get the Libertadores campaign up and running.
Liga de Quito 3 – 0 River Plate
Earlier in Victoria, Tigre also slipped to an expected defeat, the Primera Nacional side losing 2-0 to Brazilian giants Palmeiras in Group B.
Luiz Adriano curling in from the edge of the box after quarter of an hour was a bad start and although Tigre showed no lack of belief they were restricted to long range efforts for the most part.
The task was made even more difficult when Matías Pérez Acuña was shown a red card for kicking out and minutes later a superb Willian finish made certain of the result.
The locals certainly enjoyed their return to the Libertadores but ahead of a trip to Bolívar next week, it is already looking difficult for the Matador.