River continued their resurgent form last night with a 3-1 win away to Lanús. The joy of the victory was stained, however, as visiting fans fought with police after the game.
Following their rain-soaked, almost-postponed Copa Libertadores win to Independiente de Medellin last Wednesday, where Los Millonarios triumphed to go first in their group, they traveled to last year’s league winners Lanús’ stadium with similar hopes of climbing up the table.
River started the game the stronger but were pegged back on 35 minutes, when ex-player José Sand was on hand to tuck away a rebound from close range. Heads didn’t drop, though, and winger Gonzalo ‘Pity’ Martínez struck the crossbar from 30 yards out just one minute later.
Ariel Rojas brought the scores level just three minutes after half-time – his first goal since October 2014 – before Pity Martínez’s deflected free-kick went in twenty minutes later. The 23 year-old more than deserved his goal and earned widespread praise after the game, with pundits calling it his best game in a River shirt to date.
He was on hand again to set up Lucas Alario in the final moments of the game, with a smart cut-back to set the final 3-1.
Head coach Marcelo Gallardo said of his performance, “I’m very happy. He was comfortable on the right-wing… he even had other chances to score another goal, which would have boosted his confidence further.”
The win means River overtake Lanús into sixth in the table – only eight points behind leaders Boca. Their classic rival continues with a poor streak, having not won in four consecutive matches.
Around 11,000 River fans were also in attendance last night, as new Primera División legislation allows for teams to allow their fans to attend two away matches per season. Questions abound regarding the effectiveness of the measure, however, which hoped to crack down on fan violence.
Seven injuries (thought to be four police officers and three River fans), fifteen arrests (including the head of River’s ‘Borrachos del tablon’ firm), the destruction of countless local shops and parts of the stadium itself, suggest it isn’t quite working.
Just last weekend, visiting Boca fans clashed with Banfield supporters, while Lanús fans trashed Racing’s stadium in the tournament’s opening fixture two weeks ago.
After months of issue in other areas – player wages, TV deals and debts – fan violence seems one that will no doubt be work its way up the Argentine Football Association’s agenda in the coming weeks.