The copious rain that fell in Colombia yesterday was clearly no obstacle for River Plate (I mean, just look at the name of the team) in its debut in the Copa Libertadores, which is the premier South American club tournament – the equivalent of the European Champions League, if you will. The team coached by Marcelo Gallardo began its journey in the continental tournament on the right foot, beating opponent Independiente Medellín 3-1 on their home turf.
After a rather dull performance in the 0-0 match against Union in the Argentine football tournament past Sunday, River truly stepped up the intensity for the Copa Libertadores.
The game did not take long to get heated, despite the intense rain that fell during the game. River was granted a penalty shot 28 minutes into the game, after River’s Lucas Alario received a sliding tackle that sent him right into a huge puddle of rain (Yes, there were actual puddles of rain accumulating on the field). Independiente Medellín players stormed up to the referee, trying to deny their actions. They argued the foul was outside the box, but a replay clearly showed the ball was outside the box, with the actual interaction between the players — what actually counts — being inside.
Despite the rain, River kept pushing and got their second goal just a few minutes afterwards, at minute 34. A long pass from River’s Ariel Rojas towards the center caused Independiente Medellín’s keeper to come out to clear the danger. Unfortunately for the home team, and especially its keeper, things went awry and River’s Sebastián Driussi was able to stretch the difference.
Yet the team wasn’t done yet. River became one with the rain and was able to adapt to the circumstances much better than their rival. During the second half of the game, at minute 52, River’s center back Lucas Martínez Quarta was able to seize a lost ball in the box, practically sealing the game’s fate.
Medellín was able to shorten the difference after striker Juan Quintero seized a penalty the referee called on River’s keeper, Augusto Batalla.
The game ended 3-1, with River coming out on top. Some thought this game would not even play out since the game was stopped and suspended for an hour because of the intense rain. Medellín was not able to handle the rain as well as River, and paid the price. The Argentine team is now in the first spot in Group 3 of the tournament.