The disparity between River Plate’s form in cup competition and the league continues to be something of an enigma. Four days after putting five past Racing Club to lift the Supercopa Argentina, River slipped to a 1-0 defeat to Argentinos Juniors at the Monumental.
A frustrating evening looked to be heading for a goalless draw until a minute into added time when 21-year-old Gabriel Florentín, who spent years with River’s academy, cut inside Paulo Díaz and delivered an unstoppable, bending shot into the top corner.
Argentinos Juniors’ resolute defending and a bit of luck had kept River at bay. After losing three games prior even a point would have been a welcome boost for Gabriel Milito but Florentín’s special strike secured all three.
Milton Casco struck the crossbar early on when it appeared River could pick up where they left off in the Supercopa yet Argentinos gave far more to think about than Racing ever did in Santiago del Estero. Franco Armani was kept on his toes and although the home team dominated possession, the Bichos made Gallardo’s side work.
River will undoubtedly have questions over referee Nicolás Lamolina’s failure to award a penalty for what looked a clear foul on Rafael Santos Borré by Carlos Quintana but the official perhaps also let Paulo Díaz off for an ugly looking two-footed challenge.
Borré had only been fit for a place on the bench but after that penalty shout the Colombian also headed against the post and if either team was to snatch a winner most would have predicted it would be River. Gabriel Florentín had other plans and with it Argentinos Juniors picked up their first win of the season.
River’s defeat coupled with Boca’s huge win over Vélez 24 hours earlier sets up next weekend’s Superclásico perfectly.
The team on the wrong end of River’s big win in midweek, Racing Club were in desperate need of victory amid talk that Juan Antonio Pizzi might already be on his way out. La Academia didn’t produce the type of performance that will have supporters excited again but did secure the win over Rosario Central that at least provides some breathing room.
The impressive Enzo Copetti, who should have had a penalty in the first half after being clobbered by Jorge Broun, settled it with a firm header just after the hour mark in an otherwise unmemorable game.
Pizzi and Racing won’t care. Victory was vital and with a first three points of the season in the bag, the Academia can now look to build.