Wednesday, October 03, 2007

SSN Special Report: River Plate Salvages a Draw

Our man Aaron Sheedy is on the ground in Buenos Aires and filed this report from El Monumental where River salvaged a draw with Rosario Central:

It was a muggy and heated affair at Monumental Stadium on Sunday where River Plate played host to Rosario Central and managed to find the net in the 98th minute, yes the 98th, to get a most unlikely draw.

I'll start with a bit of back-story since it was equally unlikely that we were even there to see the 14:30 match in the first place. My wife and I got off the plane in BA at 10am and were ogling our way through the outskirts of the city when we happened to ask if there were any matches to be seen. Not only was our young driver a River Plate fan, he drove us out of the way to the stadium gates, paid for scalped tickets out of his own pocket (we didn't have any currency yet) and then dropped us off at the apartment an hour late, imploring us not to tell the miffed apartment owners that we had made a little detour.

And so it was that we found ourselves seated in a half full stadium in Plata D2 among the slightly more sedate fans while songs and mayhem raged above us in the packed cheap seats.

River Plate controlled the game early on with neat ball movement and solid midfield play. But even with the bulk of the possession they failed to mount any serious threat and perhaps more ominously were easily penetrated by even the most straightforward runs from Rosario. River hit the post several times before the half but it was Rosario who netted the first goal with a fine 30 yard strike from Garcia at 41'.

The crowd turned from loud and bemused to loud and angry with many of their chants being directed at River Plate's coach Passarella. He was cursed openly when the half ended and was lucky not to be hit by sundry coca Cola and paper detritus hurled his way as he slunk into the tunnel.

The second half opened in disaster as Rosario closed ranks, stalled for time, and still managed a great goal from Diaz when he rocketed on in at 49' past a frozen and staring River back line. At that point the game started to turn ugly as the Rosario Central players took liberal opportunities to fall to the turf in mock agony and the crowd took liberties with the Rosario Central's mothers if their chants were any indication.

The river plate front 6 pushed erratically forward and managed few chances until the 63rd and 75th when they put two swift, pretty goals in to tie it up. After the 2nd goal I feared for my hearing as the entire stadium erupted. It was insanity and even the formerly aloof fans on either side of us gave the weird, out of place, Americans huge grins. By that time it was ridiculously hot and Meredith had herself a River Plate cap so either we were becoming more endearing or they were beginning to suffer mild heat induced delirium.

The last 25 minutes of the game made all that came before look sedate and placid. First, to my tactical surprise, River Plate did not play for the tie and kept pressing the attack. This was all the more puzzling since their back 4 had looked disastrous all afternoon and now in addition were looking a bit knackered. I was beginning to suspect the earlier abuse of the coach was not unfounded.

Rosario on the other hand redoubled their tactics that I have since dubbed "stalling and falling" and were given 3 yellow cards in quick succession for their efforts. After the 3rd yellow, the Rosario coach must have felt left out as he started screaming on the sidelines until he too was booked.

At 89 minutes the referee flashed that 6 minutes were to be added to play given all the shenanigans that occurred. Not 3 minutes later Rosario's left back Raldes (a force all day) seemingly strolled into the box and after some indifferent pressure from River, neatly put one past the keeper. The River Fans in response, nearly tore the place apart. To their credit, their anger was directed not at Rosario’s small boisterous fan contingent, nor at the opposing team but at their own appallingly bad defenders.

After the restart and a quick foul, Rosario was again carded for stalling and apparently, the referee took the liberty of tacking on a few minutes of injury time since the game was still underway at 97 when River gained the chance for a corner. Rosario's backup keeper took this break in play to have a little break of his own earning a red card by leaping from his bench, screaming at the ref, refusing to leave the field and eventually rushing onto the pitch where he finally was restrained and sent packing.

River took their corner, promptly lost possession and were nearly undone when Rosario came within inches after a quick run by Raldes (again.) It was now 98' as River prepared their goal kick only to be delayed by members of the Rosario team surrounding the ref apparently in protest of the clock.

When order was restored, River took full advantage of the frazzled opposition by working the ball up the pitch and getting a solid cross to striker Falaco who headed over the keeper in the final seconds for the draw.

Post game, the ref had to be escorted from the field by police as the Rosario Central team seemed to want to kill him. As for the poor River fans, they kept us penned in the stadium singing and chanting and waiting for a good 30 sweltering minutes while the Rosario fans were bustled away.

Today we see Boca Juniors play San Lorenzo. Hopefully we won't be disappointed.

-Guest Correspondent Sheedy


The Editor said...

Excellent report, Old Boy! You shall be paid in copious amounts of PBR upon your return.

Just don't let Meredith take the River cap to La Bombonera this afternoon...

Your with jealousy,

virginia said...

did you ever pay the driver back for the tickets?

Hampton J said...

We paid our driver back - plus extra for his amazing efforts. I hoped to see him at the game but no such luck....89

Anonymous said...

That was fantastic. I am an exiled Millonario (River fan) living in Durham and you made me feel like I was there.
Please tell me that you will see River - Boca on Sunday. If you can't get tickets, I might be able to help from here. Let me know.

The Editor said...

I was told before they left that they'll be heading to Patagonia at the weekend and won't be in BA for El Superclasico. I told them they are fools. Fools, I say!

River, compadre, la concha de tu madre!! Vamos Boca!!!!


Anonymous said...

Too bad, even when the games suck, the superclasicos are always great because of the fans.
...also sad you are a Boca fan, its like everybody outside the US is a Yankees fan.
I must admit they are they best team of the decade, but they have no class. If its beautiful elegant play that you want...River is the way to go.
Exception: Riquelme if he is not depressed, and Tevez always.

Aguante los Millo and congrats on the great blog.

The Editor said...

Hah! Fair enough -- when I was in BA all my friends were Boca so I went with them. Have you read my match report from way back when?

Hampton J said...


I am sorry to disappoint but the editor is correct - we are going skiing in Patagonia. I do lament missing the River v Boca game. It will be insane. But I myself will go insane if I don't get some turns in Argentina. Regardless, I'm very pleased with the football I watched....

The Editor said...

You all are fools. Fools!! The Superclassico is special. Skiing in Argentina? Hmmm. Not so much.