Victims of Own Success, River Plate Succumb to Another Loss
BY :LUIS AMPUERO
AUGUST 24, 2015
Buenos Aires. Libertadores Cup champions River Plate displayed effects of their trophy-winning exertions as they succumbed to their second successive Argentine league defeat away to Estudiantes.
Sunday's 2-1 loss in La Plata followed last weekend's 1-0 defeat by modest San Martin at El Monumental where fans packed the stadium to celebrate River's third Libertadores success.
River have dropped nine points behind joint leaders San Lorenzo and Boca Juniors to fifth in the standings although they have a game in hand.
An energy-sapping round trip to Japan where they won the minor but lucrative Suruga Bank Cup beating J-League Cup winners Gamba Osaka 3-0 on Aug. 11 added new names to their list of players with injuries or fatigue.
River's Argentina defender Rogelio Funes Mori is in England looking to finalize his transfer to Everton.
Estudiantes, who have won the Libertadores Cup four times, gave River a guard of honor when they ran out onto the Estadio Unico pitch.
Former Argentina winger Lucho Gonzalez put River ahead in the first half with a superb left-footed volley into the top corner.
Second half goals from midfielder Ezequiel Cerutti and center back Sebastian Dominguez gave Estudiantes victory and the 11th place in the league standings.
"We didn't show the fighting spirit and mental strength to recover quickly as we have been used to," said coach Marcelo Gallardo. "The equalizer hit us hard and we couldn't get back into the match."
River had young striker Lucas Alario, hero of their Libertadores final victory over Mexico's Tigres, sent off seven minutes from time for a foul as their nerves got the better of the visitors.
Arch-rivals Boca notched their sixth win in seven matches to beat Gabriel Heinze's Godoy Cruz 2-0 and keep pace with San Lorenzo, 3-2 winners at Argentinos Juniors on Saturday. Goal difference does not count in Argentina.
Carlos Tevez laid on the 38th-minute opener at La Bombonera for Marcelo Meli's diving header then converted a penalty in the 66th.
"We've got a very important month ahead of us when a lot of things can be settled. We need to be ready for that," said Tevez.
Boca host San Lorenzo on Sept. 5 without Tevez and midfielder Fernando Gago, who will be on tour with Argentina in the United States, and visit River the following weekend for the "Superclasico."
They are also in the quarter-finals of the Copa Argentina.