The benefits of stability were laid bare in the Supercopa Argentina final on Thursday evening as Marcelo Gallardo’s long reign of success at River Plate produced yet another title at the expense of a feeble Racing Club who may live to regret their decision to chop and change.
Approaching a seventh year in charge of River Plate, the most successful coach in the club’s history Marcelo Gallardo has now guided the Millonarios to twelve trophies. The 2019 Copa Argentina winners adding the Supercopa in Santiago del Estero after dismantling Racing.
Racing’s league triumph already seems a long time ago and not only because of the bizarre scheduling of the Supercopa being delayed until 2021. Eduardo Coudet was in charge when La Academia lifted the Superliga title and since then Argentina’s top flight has undergone a rebranding and a restructuring, Racing have gone through another manager and most importantly the club parted ways with director of football Diego Milito.
With all that upheaval, River Plate were understandably favourites for the Supercopa but few would have predicted the second half meltdown that saw Gallardo’s side seal a dominant 5-0 win.
It was still difficult to imagine at half time. River led 1-0 thanks to a towering header from Rafael Santos Borré but Racing will have been given some confidence from River’s at times shaky defence with Tomás Chancalay coming within the width of the post from equalising.
Juan Antonio Pizzi made one change at the break replacing the ineffective Nicolás Reniero with midfielder Aníbal Moreno presumably in an attempt to take a greater control of the midfielder yet it was inexplicable changes that followed which handed River the initiative. Around the hour mark, off came Nery Domínguez and Matías Rojas and veterans Darío Cvitanich and Ignacio Piatti were introduced to add some attacking edge.
And while Racing went chasing, they left the door wide open. Enzo Pérez broke through what was left of Racing’s midfield to set off Julián Álvarez on the counter and the 21-year-old did the rest impeccably firing River’s second past Gabriel Arias.
Two became three almost a minute later as Nicolás De La Cruz slotted in and a shell-shocked Racing found themselves four down moments later, Matías Suárez dancing between defenders before Leonel Miranda’s sliding challenge inadvertently put the ball in his own net.
Ten minutes from time a sumptuous pass from deep by recent signing Agustín Palavecino released Álvarez and the youngster unselfishly squared for Suárez to make it five.