River Plate played its first match in this new edition of the Copa Libertadores, at a distinct night in Río de Janeiro: owing to a disciplinary measure, Flamengo had to play as local in Nilton Santos Stadium (of Botafogo), at a match that took place behind closed doors. That was the stage for Marcelo Gallardo’s team continental debut.
In the first half, teams played at the same level, with very few goal chances: River had two opportunities through Rodrigo Mora and the dead-ball situation: in the first one, Gonzalo Montiel could not deflect it with precision within the area. The second was the clearest: the Uruguayan’s poisonous shot found the good answer of the goalkeeper Diego Alves on his left goalpost. The local only bothered Franco Armani with a shot from Henrique Dourado that the 1 confidently controlled.
In the second half, River was much more confident and had two attempts: a move between Mora and Pratto ended with a shot from the 27 that got deflected and became a corner kick; in that move, the ball fell at Pratto’s feet, but his flying shot went out deflected. In a move forward from the local, the referee gave a penalty due to a foul by Leonardo Ponzio and Henrique Dourado scored 1-0.
But the reaction was quick: after a good center shot by Nicolás De La Cruz, Mora headed the ball to tie the match. River had the second one at the feet of the Uruguayan midfielder, but the goalkeeper blocked the shot and Enzo Pérez could not catch it and score the second goal. In River’s best moment, Flamengo scored 2-1 with a cross-shot from Éverton.
Gallardo’s team went all in seeking the tie: it was close with a corner kick that was flicked on in the first goalpost and then a header from Ignacio Scocco that the defence kicked out on the line. However, relief came at Camilo Mayada’s feet, with a shot from far that went into Alves’ right goalpost.
River’s next match for the Copa Libertadores will be against Independiente Santa Fe from Colombia, at the Monumental Stadium. This weekend, for the Superliga Argentina de Fútbol, el Millonario will receive Chacarita.
FLAMENGO: Diego Alves; Pará, Réver, Juan, René; Jonas, Éverton Ribeiro, Lucas Paquetá, Henrique Dourado; Diego (Captain) and Éverton. Coach: Paulo Carpegiani.
Substitutes: César, Rhodolfo, Rodinei, Willian Arão, Romulo, Vinicius Junior and Felipe Vizeu.
Substitutions: Rodinei for Pará, Romulo for Jonas, Arão for Éverton.
RIVER PLATE: Franco Armani; Gonzalo Montiel, Jonatan Maidana, Lucas Martínez Quarta, Marcelo Saracchi; Enzo Pérez, Leonardo Ponzio (Captain), Bruno Zuculini, Nicolás De La Cruz; Rodrigo Mora and Lucas Pratto. Coach: Marcelo Gallardo.
Substitutes: Germán Lux, Camilo Mayada, Javier Pinola, Exequiel Palacios, Carlos Auzqui, Juan Quintero and Ignacio Scocco.
Substitutions: Mayada for Zuculini, Quintero for De La Cruz, Scocco for Pérez.
Goals: Dourado, Éverton (F); Mora, Mayada (RP).
Booked: Diego, Dourado, Éverton, Réver (F); Maidana, Martínez Quarta, Zuculini (RP).
Referee: Michael Espinoza (Perú).
Assistant referees: Jonny Bossio and Coty Carrera.
Fourth Official: Joel Alarcon (Perú).