After Boca Juniors’ triumph over Colon yesterday, River Plate only needed a simple win over Defensa y Justicia to lift the Argentine league. What better place than their own home, the Monumental de Nunez, to win the league? On paper, everything seemed perfect for Marcelo Gallardo’s men, however, brave Defensa y Justicia went on and helped Boca Juniors out with a 1-1 draw at River’s. Juan Lucero scored for the visitors, as Juanfer Quintero equalized for the hosts.
Despite the frustrating result, River still depends only on their own strengths to become champions of the Argentine Superliga. A simple win in the last matchday will do it for Gallardo’s men. However, it’s going to be away at Atletico Tucuman, who is a good side. That should be a good game to watch.
The first clear chance was for River. At 19 ‘, Robert Rojas broke the lines leading the ball, until he found Nacho Fernandez in projection behind the defensive line. However, the midfielder couldn’t finish properly.
If Nacho did not swing the nets for River, Juan Lucero did it for the visitors, with 23 minutes on the clock. After Francisco Pizzini’s cross from the left, the striker scored past Argentine Franco Armani. 0-1 Defensa y Justicia.
River looked clearly affected by all the pressure involved in the game and had only chances with Nacho Scocco and Javier Pinola, but they couldn’t score, as the hosts went half-time 1-0 down at home.
Gallardo’s team talk was certainly pretty effective, as River Plate players started with everything.
The equalizer came in when Nicolas de La Cruz was brought down inside the area by Frias. The referee did not hesitate and awarded River a penalty. Quintero was on for the charge and converted it from the penalty spot. 1-1.
It looked like River would turn it around and consequently guarantee the Superliga title. Lucas Pratto and De La Cruz both stopped at goalkeeper Unsain, who pulled off some great saves to keep the title race on until the last matchday.
Before facing the must-win game against Atletico Tucuman, away from home, next Sunday, River Plate will face LDU, in Quito, on Wednesday, for the Copa Libertadores. The day before, Defensa y Justicia, also for the Copa, will face Brazilian side Santos, in Argentina.