After six months without as much as a friendly to prepare Argentinian clubs were thrust back into Copa Libertadores action on Thursday and aside from Tigre’s expected struggles it was a largely positive return.
Despite several other South American nations having the perceived advantage of competitive action in recent weeks and coronavirus still looming over a number of fixtures, Argentinian clubs, even those who failed to pick up three points, will have been boosted by their displays.
Boca Juniors’ trip to Asunción was arguably the most controversial with opponents Libertad unhappy that several members of Boca’s squad had tested positive for Covid-19 two weeks earlier. However, despite the club’s statement of ‘indignation, repudiation and absolute worry’ and the friendly banners displayed in Paraguay upon Boca’s arrival it was a successful trip for the Xeneizes.
Eduardo Salvio struck twice to secure victory and send Boca top of Group H and while Libertad may continue to grumble about the protocols in place it is Miguel Angel Russo’s side firmly on course for progression.
River Plate had the even more daunting task of travelling to Brazil to face São Paulo and while Marcelo Gallardo’s side couldn’t match Boca’s result, the performance was excellent.
An unfortunate own-goal off Enzo Pérez gave River the worst possible start but Rafael Santos Borré and Julián Álvarez looked to have snatched it only for another slice of misfortune with Fabricio Angileri ricocheting the ball into his own net. River sit second in Group D but with Peruvian club Binacional no longer playing at altitude next week should offer a great opportunity for three points.
Defensa y Justicia had no such trouble cruising to victory against Ecuador’s Delfín in Florencio Varela to kickstart their campaign. Second half goals from Braian Romero, Gabriel Hachen and Nicolás Leguizamón made it a comfortable night for Hernán Crespo’s side and ahead of next week’s visit of Olimpia, El Halcón can think about getting out of Group G.
Racing Club will still be confident of their safe passage to the knockout stages despite suffering a frustrating defeat to Nacional. Sebastián Beccacece’s side didn’t look the team that had not been playing for months but switched off after half time and Gonzalo Bergessio’s penalty coupled with Augusto Solari’s sending off left La Academia with an uphill task.
And while all those top flight Argentinian clubs will be fighting for a place in the last 16, the Primera Nacional’s Tigre look almost done. An early goal from Pablo Magnin gave Néstor Gorosito’s side the lead away to Guaraní but four goals in reply, one scored by Argentinian Bautista Merlini and another from former Independiente winger Cecilio Domínguez, gave the Paraguayans a routine win. Three straight defeats leave Tigre on the brink of a swift exit.