Colombians win competition against Ecuador's Independiente del Valle.


What makes the two young Rosario Central players Franco Cervi and Giovani Lo Celso the players they are?


An interview with Uruguayan sports journalist Nicolás Difiori ahead of Sunday's Clásico.


Taking a look at the next great Argentinian #5, the next Javier Mascherano.


Colombians win the Copa Sudamericana after penalty thriller against Huracán.

Monday, August 31, 2015

South America’s Top Clubs – September 2015

It is the second month in which this ranking is being featured in my blog. New month, new luck? After Emelec led the South American top club ranking in August, the Colombians from Santa Fe took over first place for September after strong performances in the Copa Sudamericana.

The rules remain the same: A win in the Sudamericana/Libertadores gets you 6 points, a draw 2. In the domestic leagues, both numbers are halved for the regular 3 and 1.







1 3 Santa Fe Colombia 41
2 1 CS Emelec Ecuador 40
3 13 LDU Quito Ecuador 37
4 - Defensor Sporting Uruguay 37
5 11 Olimpia Paraguay 36
6 - Corinthians Brazil 36
7 - Libertad Paraguay 35
8 2 River Plate Argentina 35
9 - Estudiantes Argentina 35
10 8 Cerro Porteño Paraguay 34
11 10 Colo Colo Chile 33
12 4 Racing Club Argentina 33
13 - Sportivo Luqueño Paraguay 32
14 19 The Strongest Bolivia 32
15 9 Atlético Mineiro Brazil 32
16 - Universidad Católica Chile 31
17 - Club Nacional Uruguay 31
18 5 Caracas FC Venezuela 31
19 - Deportivo La Guaira Venezuela 30
20 12 Atlético Junior Colombia 30

Friday, August 28, 2015

Update – Copa Sudamericana 2nd Round Results

Nacional have lost 0-2 to Santa Fe in an eventful and controversial game. You can find the match report here.

Deportivo La Guaira drew 1-1 with Sportivo Luqueño.

Universidad Católica, after a 2-0 halftime lead, lost 2-3 to Libertad.


What a win: Libertad came from two goals down to win away in Chile.

Emelec were unsatisfied with a goalless draw against Juventud. Especially the away goalkeeper Carini left the Ecuadorian strikers behind desperately.

Belgrano only needed 17 seconds to get the lead against Lanús. While it was the second fastest goal in Copa Sudamericana history, it was not enough to get the win. The guests scored in the 89th minute, so it is all tied up before the return leg.

Finally, Atlético Paranaense has reached the round of 16 after a 1-0 win over Joinville.

Santa Fe celebrate lucky win over 9 men Nacional

Thursday evening in Montevideo: Nacional versus Santa Fe, probably the best matchup of the second round, kicked off with its first leg. Due to their home advantage I would have named the Uruguayans favorites today. The lineups were as follows.

Nacional: Conde - Eroza, Malvino, Polenta, Espino - Porras, Romero - Barcia, González, De Pena - Alonso.

Santa Fe: Castellanos – Otalvaro, Mina, Meza, Cummings – Anchio, Roa, Salazar, Seijas – Morelo, Angulo.

In particular striker Wilson Morelo, who scored a hattrick for Santa Fe in the previous round, needed to be contained by the host’s defense. To be fair, Nacional were on a high themselves going into this match, after their last minute league victory over River Plate. Maybe Santiago Romero would be the hero again today?

Finally the wait was over and the match kicked off in a very atmospheric Gran Parque Central. And just as it started, it might have been decided already. Diego Polenta stomped on an attackers leg right after fouling him and therewith brought Nacional down to 10 men only three minutes in. Coach Munúa sacrificed offensive midfielder Nacho González and brought on Gorga to complete the back four again. Let’s see to what extent the Colombians could use the nearly full distance man advantage.

The game itself developed into a pretty hectic one in the opening stages, probably understandably so after the early events. Many little mistakes, too long balls, simply misplaced passes and the like. Nacional still enjoyed a good amount of possession and actually had the first big chance of the match a quarter of an hour in. De Pena headed a freekick towards the bottom right corner, but Castellanos got there in time to make the save.


Best player on the pitch in the first half: Carlos De Pena.

Nacional really started to take control in the following minutes, dominated across the wings, in particular De Pena, who convinced with his runs and technical excellence. The next cross from the right found the Iván Alonso in the middle of the penalty area, but his looping header went over the crossbar. In the meantime, the guests did not find a way into this tie. Instead, leftback Cummings himself got in danger of a second yellow card after half an hour. He had quite some difficulties defending the Uruguayan attacks down his side. His coach apparently saw the same and took him off after 33 minutes, which was likely a smart decision considering the way he looked. Did the new guy do it better? Nah. It took Villarraga two minutes to go into the referee’s book himself after bringing down Barcia like Cummings did multiple times.

A few minutes before halftime, the whole affair escalated fully. The referee sent off two more players after a bit of pushing and shoving, one from each team, Anchio and captain Alonso. Yellow cards might have done, but seemingly not tonight. By halftime we had 6 yellow and 3 red cards. 9 vs. 10 in the first half, pure entertainment. Oh yeah, the match itself was alright too. Nacional impressed despite being a man short and completely dominated their Colombian guests, who showed less than nothing and will be disappointed after 45 minutes.

After a quarter of an hour to calm down everyone’s nerves, we were back at it with the second half. My guess would be that we see at least one more sending off. Oh, and a goal maybe since it was not like the room got any less for the players that were left. Even though Santa Fe appeared more willing to get something done offensively, the Uruguayan champions’ defense continued to look marvelous and did not give away anything. On the other side, Nacional had the first big chance of the second half again through a counter attack, Espino’s nice sprint and pass into the run of Barcia, but the right wing’s shot was blocked by a sliding tackle.

An hour into the game, Santa Fe had their first real chance, but no shot on goal because of a nice interception from Porras, at least they showed up a little more in dangerous areas now, proving that defending with 9 men is not always an easy task. Right away it paid off then, pretty undeserving at this point: One long pass was enough to get by the whole defense and it of course it found Wilson Morelo. After being around goalkeeper Conde, he only had to tap it into the empty net, 0-1.

It was a difficult question for the hosts at this point 20 minutes from the end: How much offense is justifiable being down a man, but also a goal in their home game? They elected the “a lot” option, had two good chances right after falling down. Why not come from behind in the Sudamericana as well? Santa Fe had something against it and should have made it two themselves, but Angulo backheeled it wide. Luis Seijas did it better and punished Nacional for committing too many players forward with a nice finish off a counter: 0-2.

It just was not meant to be for the hosts despite all battling and fighting. There were few more chances both ways, but it remained a two goal away win in Montevideo. 0-2 is a very disappointing result for Uruguay’s record champion, as they were the better team for large parts of this game, while being a player less since the third minute. Santa Fe were extremely effective and I guess that is how you can do it if you want to be successful. One moment of abstraction and a counter were enough to get a big advantage before going home for the second leg in about three weeks.

Thursday, August 27, 2015

From Surprises, Hattricks & The Same Old

The second round of the Copa Sudamericana started for most and continued for others.

It was kicked off by the second leg between Brazilian teams Goiás and Brasília. The away team, after drawing in the first leg, managed to upset in the return one. A 0-2 away win for the Serie D side means they advance to the round of 16 after silencing the crowd at Goiás.

Defensor Sporting started off their tie against Universitario de Deportes with a 3-0 home win. Like in the first round, the Uruguayans go into the second leg once again with a huge advantage that they cannot possibly lose. Or can they? La U did not defend very well throughout the match and disappointed in this form. They are the last international hope of Peru and will need to pull a surprise out of their bags back at home.

Ecuador’s LDU Quito continued their magnificent recent form with a 1-0 home win over Paraguay’s Club Nacional. The guests went down in the 41st minute due to a strike from midfielder Holger Matamoros, which they could not recover from.


Chapecoense dominated in the rain at home and are qualified for the round of 16.

Two Brazilian clashes saw pretty clear scorelines after 90 minutes. Sport Recife beat Bahia 4-1, scoring most goals late after the game was tied nearly 80 minutes in. Chapecoense got things going with a penalty goal in the last minute of the first half and followed it up with two more goals in the second half against Ponte Preta, making it a 3-0 final. With those high results, both Chapecoense and Recife have qualified for the next round of the Copa Sudamericana.

Over in Argentina, Arsenal de Sarandí faced Independiente. The game ended 1-1 and kept the guests’ 9 match unbeaten streak (through all competitions) going. Federico Lértora (32’) gave Arsenal the lead with a fantastic goal from the edge of the area that I linked below. But it was not enough to get the win. Goalkeeper Oscar Limia did not look on the tying goal from Julián Vitale in the 70th minute.

Usually one of the lower scoring teams in the Argentinian league, Huracán burned down a firework last night with a 5-2 away win at Tigre. The hosts had seemingly zero defensive control in this match and fell down 0-5 after about an hour. In the process, Cristian Espinoza scored a hattrick. Wilchez and Luna got two goals back before the end, but it looks very doubtful that Tigre can make a comeback away to Huracán.

The Paraguayans from Olimpia, who have also had a fantastic August, need a strong performance away at Águilas Pereira. The first leg at home only ended 1-1, after Olimpia had led for a long time through yet another Núñez goal. But the Colombians fought back and equalized through Luis Páez’ late strike in the 87th minute.

Finally, Deportes Tolima dropped their home game to Atlético Junior from Colombia. While the game was tied 0-0 for a long time, an unnecessary penalty was converted by substitute Vladimir Hernández in the 74th.

TONIGHT: I will follow the Nacional vs Santa Fe match in detail. Look out for the match report!

Friday, August 21, 2015

The Next Mascherano – Matías Kranevitter

After winning the Copa Sudamericana and Libertadores, it is time to look at a player that had some of the most significant impact on River Plate’s recent successes and who will be transferred to Europe as early as December: Matías Kranevitter.

Roots and the person behind the footballer

Kranevitter, born in San Miguel de Tucumán in May of 1993, received his European sounding surname from his German ancestors and is a family man by all means. Whenever time and schedule allow it, he travels to his hometown village Yerba Buena in the surroundings of Tucumán. In a small football field, improved by Matías himself by adding new metal goals and spotlights, friends and family gather during those times to spend some time with the man who left for Buenos Aires as a boy aged 14 to conquer the football world. Back in the days, he used to earn some extra dollars working as a caddy on the golf course and therewith helping out his parents, who were taking care of 5 more sons on top. His nicknames are “Colorado” and just short “Colo”.

Debut and Beginnings

On December 2nd, 2012, Matías Kranevitter celebrated his debut against Lanús when he played a minute after coming on as a substitute for Rodrigo Mora. Since the game ended 1-0, he won his first ever match for River Plate.
Kranevitter's first full 90 minutes came about half a year later after being called up to the first team for the final few games of the year against San Martín in the Torneo Final's last week. It was the game where he contributed his first and still only assist of his professional career.
From there on out, there was not much looking back for the Argentine, who received significantly more playing time in the following year and became a full time first team player. Starting the year 2014, he played in each but one league game, nine of them over the full distance. The season ended with the league title, ahead of archrival Boca and Estudiantes, just two years after the club had been relegated into the Primera B.

Champion Kranevitter

A couple of months before his first team debut, Matías Kranevitter added the first piece of silverware to his trophy cabinet that got larger ever since. With River's U20 team, he won the Copa Libertadores youth tournament played in Peru. The first professional title came two years later with the aforementioned Argentinian championship. Marcelo Gallardo turned the team into a mean winning machine that specialised in knockout games. Triumphs in Copa Sudamericana, Recopa and Copa Libertadores would follow. The midfielder, aged 22, holds every international trophy possible.

Playing style

Kranevitter is a traditional Argentinian #5. His idol is Fernando Redondo, but his comparable in more recent past would be Javier Mascherano. Experts call him the legitimate successor of the Barcelona star.

Being a defensive midfielder, his strengths lay predominantly in his own half. It shows in the fact that in 74 games, Kranevitter has not scored a single goal yet and assisted just one. The Argentine sets the tempo of his team and distributes the ball to each side beautifully, whether alone or with Leonardo Ponzio alongside of him. To support the centerbacks while defending, he often falls back between them when needed. A huge strength of his is breaking up play by either intercepting the pass or with his tackles which are usually timed particularly well.

On the field you simply recognize him, because his teammates search and want him to have the ball. He is tactically one step too big for the Argentinian league already. With his 1.79m body size, he shows excellent technical qualities on top of it, controls the ball well and avoids opponents before they even know it. Kranevitter has the stamina to do it all in a high tempo throughout the game.

His weaknesses are the obvious ones. With a rather short size, he will not dominate the aerial battles in European midfields. Furthermore, he avoids joining attacks from his defensive position, which results in basically no scorer points. The Argentine needs to work on that and improve his offensive game, then, and I have no doubts about that, he will be a name that will be one of the most sought after in the world.

The future

Reportedly, the player has already given his word or even signed a contract with Atlético Madrid and will join them for about 8 million € in the coming December. It is a transfer that fits into the “System Atlético”, who have done a lot of nice youth work lately. With Diego Simeone, he will find an Argentine coach, who is not unlikely to build on Kranevitter. After all, he is a player for all the dirty work, and any team loves to have them. In addition, his Italian passport makes him even easier to carry for a Spanish team that has a limit on 3 non EU foreigners.

Europe and Atlético Madrid, get ready for the new Mascherano, for Matías ‘Colo’ Kranevitter.

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Melgar Close to Sensation - Copa Sudamericana Second Legs


Close enough: Melgar were just eliminated after losing 4-5 on aggregate.

After losing 0-5 away in Colombia last week, noone gave FBC Melgar any sort of chance in the return leg this Tuesday night. And how wrong they were. The Peruvians came so close to actually forcing extra time against Atlético Junior, that it should count as a sensation in itself. 4-0 was the final result in a game that was dominated by Melgar at all times and nearly had a happy ending. The fact that they even believed in their chance after what happened last week shows you a lot about South American football and that absolutely everything is possible. Do not count out anyone at any time. By halftime, a 2-0 lead through two goals from Bernardo Cuesta looked nice, but more chances were wasted and those are what was missing at the end. Since the hosts scored two more by the 83rd minute, everything was set for a sensational finish, but the Colombians just crawled across the finish line. Never had they expected a run for their money as shown by Peru’s Melgar on that day.

Atlético Junior, after their scare, face Colombian countrymen Deportes Tolima in the second round. It took them penalties to beat Venezuela’s Carabobo FC 3-1. The two legs were not all that exciting after a total of zero goals in 210 minutes.


Lots of reason to party: Sportivo Luqueño destroyed Aurora at home.

The one Bolivian team that did not get smashed in the first leg (see last article) happily made up for it in the second leg. Aurora lost in Paraguay to Sportivo Luqueño by a scoreline of 1-5 (2-7 aggregate). The favorite did not leave any doubts in the process leading 2-0 by halftime and 4-0 after an hour. Guido Di Vanni scored two goals in the second leg. In the next stage, Luqueño faces…

Deportivo La Guaira who needed just one goal to eliminate Ecuador’s Universidad Catolica. Edgar Pérez Greco scored in the 41st minute, and after a 1-1 draw in the first leg away from home, it was enough to see the Venezuelans through.

The other Universidad Católica, the one from Chile, did a better job and kicked out Uruguay’s Danubio FC. The game was opened up by a weird own goal of defender Matías de los Santos, who headed the ball back over the top of his goalkeepers hands right into the top corner. The Uruguayan hosts fought back and got level with a goal from Juan Olivera (50th), but it was all over when the defense failed completely ten minutes from the end and Mark González scored to shoot Universidad into the next round.

The Chileans are going to play against Libertad in the second round. Paraguay’s 2014 double champion converted two penalties during the second leg and sneaked by the Santiago Wanderers who posed a challenge (2-1 agg.).

Club Bolívar, despite winning 2-0 against Defensor Sporting, are out of the Copa Sudamericana as well. The 3-0 burden from the first leg was simply too much to recover from. William Ferreira scored both goals for the Bolivians.

Continuing the theme of double goalscorers is Ariel Núñez. The 27 year old Paraguayan striker scored twice in Olimpia’s 2-0 win over Huachipato. Since he already scored in the first leg, Olimpia was absolutely cruising through the first round, beating their opponents from Chile 4-0 on aggregate.

In the last first round tie, which is already finished, LDU Quito saved Ecuador and got by Venezuela’s Zamora. While I expected some more of the team that already played in the Libertadores during the first half of the year, they disappointed in the second leg especially. A 2-0 loss in Ecuador’s capital meant game over, since all they managed in their own stadium before was a 1-1 draw.

Notes from around the Copa Sudamericana:

Not only the first round is still in progress, the Brazilians already started the second, in which they enter the competition. Here are the results from last night:

Brasília 0-0 Goiás

Ponte Preta 1-1 Chapecoense

Bahia 1-0 Sport Recife

Friday, August 14, 2015

Bolivian Disaster in the Sudamericana

Oriente Petrolero 0-3 Nacional.

Defensor Sporting 3-0 Club Bolívar.

CA Juventud 4-1 Real Potosí.

Club Aurora 1-2 Sportivo Luqueño.

Difícil revertir, pero no imposible

A loss in an Uruguayan swimming pool: Bolívar fell 3-0 to Defensor.

The first round could have started off better for the Bolivian teams. Each and every one of them lost in a pretty heavy fashion. Three times, Uruguayan teams destroyed their opponents: Nacional, Defensor and Juventud were the clearly better clubs in their meetings. Club Aurora, who do not even play in the highest Bolivian league, remarkably managed the lowest of all losses. The way it came together though is one for every fail compilation and you need to see it.

Bolivia’s football does not look particularly strong at the moment. While they managed to at least get one team into the round of 16 of the Libertadores in Universitario Sucre, and therefore did better than Peru, Chile and Venezuela, this is a total disaster, as it looks extremely unlikely that any of them will advance.

Furthermore, it’s been 21 years since the last qualification for a World Cup from the national team. As the biggest success, a Copa América win is even longer ago (1963), not much speaks for a turnaround anytime soon.

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

La U and Nacional with quality efforts – Copa Sudamericana

The Copa Sudamericana has finally started last night and 47 teams from all over South America will fight for the second biggest continental club title. If you missed the preview, you can find it here.


Successful part time worker: Roberto Gutiérrez came on late and scored the winner for Universidad Católica.

One of Chile’s most famous clubs, Universidad Católica hosted Uruguay’s Danubio in the capital Santiago to kick things off in the first round. The game itself was not the absolute greatest, but the Chileans managed to come away with a 1-0 win and go to Uruguay with the narrow advantage. The lone goal came pretty late, scored by substitute Roberto Gutiérrez. In addition, Danubio were down to 10 men at the time, after right fullback Peña had been sent off. Still, it was a deserved victory, after U Católica outshot the visitors 10-2.

The other Universidad Católica in the competition, the one from Ecuador, faced Deportivo La Guaira, winner of the Copa Venezuela. The game was very evenly contested and subsequently had no winner. Goals from Facundo Martínez (penalty) and Daniel Benítez meant things ended in a 1-1 draw. A good result for the Venezuelans, who will have every chance to advance at home next week.

An according to the statistics even match finished goalless between Venezuela’s Carabobo FC and Colombia’s Deportes Tolima. 7-8 shots, 16-17 fouls, 232-219 passes. Maybe there was not meant to be a winner here. Advantage Tolima next week?

While we are talking of advantages, Club Nacional anyone? The Uruguayan champions smashed Oriente Petrolero away in Bolivia by a scoreline of 0-3. To be fair, the goals were handed to them on a silver platter. After a corner, Alonso could not direct the ball into the net, but centerback Aja did the job for him, taking it out of the air nicely and finishing it in a very composed manner. Right before halftime, Leandro Barcia used a huge blunder of goalkeeper Marcos Argüello. The Bolivian did not manage to catch the ball after his teammate ran into him, so Barcia said thank you and lobbed it over both of them. Finally, in the 71st, Nacional added a third via own goal from Ronald Raldes. Oriente was down a man through a red card by then already.

The last matchup of the night featured Peru’s iconic side Universitario de Deportes. La U, as they are called, beat their guests from Venezuela, Deportivo Anzoátegui, in convincing fashion. During the 3-1 success, the Peruvians also scored a goal from a fantastic combination that I will link below. Henry Giménez (13’), Ángel Romero (28’) and Germán Alemanno (57’) gave the hosts a 3-0 lead, before Edwin Aguilar gave the Venezuelans slight hope for the second leg by getting one back. That return leg will be have to played without defender Diego Araguainamo, who was sent off for two yellow cards.

Monday, August 10, 2015

Club Nacional de Football – Uruguayan Record Champions Attack Again

As a new season approaches, I’m taking a look at Uruguay’s record champion, Nacional, including possible problems and changes in personnel.

Important subtractions: Captain and goalkeeper Gustavo Munúa, now the new coach of the team, ended his playing career and takes a direct step onto the other side of the game. Gastón Pereiro took the opportunity to join Dutch club PSV Eindhoven for 7 million €. A nice sum for Nacional, but quite a loss in terms of player potential. Midfielder Diego Arismendi followed former coach Gutiérrez to Saudi-Arabia and joined Al-Shabab Riad. Not too shabby of an option for the pocket either. Wingers Bueno and Tabó returned to their clubs after loans. Club legend Alváro Recoba left the club with the national title in his last match.

Important additions: Esteban Conde (from Rafaela) and Luis Mejía (Fénix) are the new goalkeepers replacing Munúa and Bava. The defense definitely looks stronger than last year. Carlos Valdés and Diego Polenta came in on a permanent deals after being on loan last season already. They are joined by Matías Malvino from Lugano. Former Uruguayan international Sebastián Eguren  returned to his home country, while El Loco Sebastián Abreu did just the same.


Which way are Club Nacional on? Striker Iván Alonso (24) hopes it’s only up.

Good and bad: Offensively, Nacional lost a lot of quality and did not replace it too well yet. Abreu is not someone that will carry the team for example internationally (Sudamericana) anymore. On the plus side, the defense that was struggling a lot in the past half year was strengthened and should do better again. And as long as defense wins championships, Nacional should be fine. After an exit to Brazil was rumored earlier this year, top striker Iván Alonso stayed with the club and was made the new captain by Munúa. He keeps playing a key role in their plans.

Preseason friendlies: Argentinian teams did not look too well against Nacional. That was probably mainly because they did not field their A teams due to their own league action. 1-0 vs Estudiantes, 4-0 vs Boca, 2-2 vs GyE after being down 0-2. It looks like Uruguay’s record champions are ready for the season.

Key dates: Oriente Petrolero from Bolivia have the honor to open the Montevideo club’s season.

August 11, 20:15 local (2:15 CET): Oriente Petrolero vs Nacional

August 15: Start of Uruguayan league, Villa Teresa vs Nacional

August 20, 21:00 local (2:00 CET): Nacional vs Oriente Petrolero

12th league matchweek: Clásico, Nacional vs Peñarol.

The full league schedule can be found here.

Saturday, August 8, 2015

By the Numbers – Final Copa Libertadores Statistics

0 – No teams from Chile, Peru or Venezuela made it into the knockout stages of the Copa Libertadores. They will hope to do better in 2016.

3 – For the third time in history, River Plate from Buenos Aires have won the tournament. This will let them play for Club World Cup and, yet again, for the Recopa.

5 – The number of sending-offs Brazilian FIFA referee Sandro Ricci produced in the same amount of matches.

6 – Top assist guy of the Copa Libertadores? Eduardo Sasha from Brazil’s Internacional. He played a big part in his club’s semifinal appearance.


Eduardo Sasha, South America’s leader in the assist category.

8 – The number of goals it took Gustavo Bou to become top goalscorer of the competition. The Racing striker from Argentina scored two hattricks in the process. He was followed by Estudiantes’ Guido Carillo with 7.

9 – Goals in one match? Yes, you read correctly. Juan Aurich and finalists Tigres UANL had a fantastic group match that ended 4-5 in favor of the Mexicans.

18 – The number of points Boca Juniors won during the group stages. After that perfect demonstration they went out after the infamous derby against River in the round of 16.

351 – The number of total goals in this Copa Libertadores edition. This average of 2.54 per game only ranks 37th in history.

542 – In the alltime standings, Nacional remain on top with 542 points despite a wasted season. But Peñarol and River Plate are not far away.

53.429 – Average attendance of the winner. River managed to get the most fans into the stadium in the past season, right behind them are Boca.

Thursday, August 6, 2015

Campeones! – River Plate win Copa Libertadores

The mission was successful: For the first time since 1996, CA River Plate have won the Copa Libertadores again. In their own home stadium, El Monumental, Tigres UANL did not stand a chance and were beaten by a commanding 3-0 win. Goals from Lucas Alario (45’), Carlos Sánchez (74’, penalty) and Ramiro Funes Mori (79’) gave the Argentinians a 3-0 success on aggregate. River now hold all three big South American titles at the same time: Libertadores, Sudamericana, Recopa.


Starting right from kickoff, River took control of the game and tried to press the Mexicans back into their own half. Still, a lot of fouls early destroyed the rhythm a bit and after only 25 minutes, five yellow cards were handed out already. The Mexicans had the first real opportunity in the 24th minute, when a solo run from Jürgen Damm left behind multiple opponents. Instead of shooting, he tried to cross it into the middle, which did not turn out well as Gignac lost the ball. While thunder and lightning were threatening in the sky, the first half remained pretty poor. Captain Cavenaghi was kept from shooting in the 32th and that was about it from the first 45 minutes.

Well, almost at least. Leonel Vangioni had other plans, nutmegged a defender and crossed the ball in from the left side. Alario was there to finish it with a diving header into the bottom left corner – 1-0 River in the last minute of the first half! It was not particularly deserved after a relatively eventless first half, but it is not like the Argentinians would care.


Lucas Alario! The speedy winger who gave River Plate the lead on the night (left, with Bertolo).

Quite a few shots from distance from both teams would start the second half, none of them too threatening, but on the wet grass it was a good way to test the goalkeepers. The best chance for Tigres came in the 68th minute, when Damm finally got by Funes Mori, but the beautiful cross right onto his head was followed up by a weak finish from Javier Aquino.

Only five minutes later, the game was effectively put to bed. Uruguayan star Carlos Sánchez was fouled by Aquino when entering the area, the clear penalty was converted by Sánchez himself. Goalkeeper Nahuel Guzmán was without a chance, 2-0 River.

Coach Marcelo Gallardo gave captain Fernando Cavenaghi his final ovation by subbing the striker off in his last game for the club. The show still had to go on, and it did. Tigres conceded one more: Pisculichi, who came on for Cavenaghi, brought in the corner which found the head of Funes Mori that crowned his great allround performance by marking the 3-0.

That was all the game had to offer. Tigres disappointed on the night after playing an outstanding Libertadores campaign. In Buenos Aires meanwhile, legends were born. In particular, coach Gallardo who has now won the competition as a player and a coach with the same club, received chants and congratulations over and over.

Here are the video highlights of the match:

And the trophy celebration: