River Plate overcame Valera outfit Trujillanos FC to finish its Copa Libertadores group in first place with 11 points, ahead of second place São Paulo, in a 4-3 victory at La Monumental.
The result was a little tighter than expected, after River’s 4-0 victory over the Venezuelans previously in the competition.
It had looked like River was bound to wipe the floor with the bottom-placed team after it raced to a 2-0 goal lead, courtesy of Andrés D´Alessandro’s 9th minute free kick and 19th minute penalty, quite the set piece specialist it’d seem.
His free kick crept into the bottom right and 10 minutes later, left back Milton Casco was brought down in the area after a goal line clearance. Thirty-five-year-old D´Alessandro stepped up and confidently converted the penalty, lifting it into the top right.
Attacking midfielder Maurice Cova scored a golazo to snatch one back for Trujillanos on the half-hour mark, who had already been eliminated from the Copa Libertadores before kickoff.
After Venezuelan midfielder Gerardo Mendoza picked up a second yellow in as many minutes and headed for an early bath, River forward Camilo Mayada netted from close range after the Trujillanos keeper Héctor Marcelo Pérez was taken out by his own defender. 3-1 to River in the 49th minute.
22 minutes later, Liverpool-linked forward Lucas Alario finished from 12 yards out to all but seal victory at 4-1.
Trujillanos was definitely down, but not out as it fought back with two goals in four minutes to make it 4-3, but that was how it remained as it finished bottom of the group although it got River fans’ hearts racing.
This should’ve been easier for River, who perhaps underestimated its opponents, but Boca fans will be looking at River’s fragility at the back and licking their lips, especially after its scored 10 goals in its past two games. It looks set to be a cracking Superclásico on Sunday, albeit one which has little relevance for anything other than pride right now.