River fell 0-2 to Atletico Tucuman in their return to the Monumental. The game also marked the return for Adalberto Roman who was responsible for the second goal. Roman was substituted at the half.
The afternoon was full of anxious expectation as River played only their second home game this season at the Monumental after serving a 5 game home stadium ban. The weather cooperated, but the opposition did not.
Almeyda’s team fell behind early again on a goal in the 13th minute. It took Atletico two passes to go nearly the entire length of the pitch, springing Luis Rodriguez in behind the River defense as a near helpless Leandro Chichizola couldn’t close down fast enough. The striker didn’t miss the far corner and River found themselves behind early, yet again.
Just 9 minutes later though Atletico would double their lead. Roman lazily tried to gather a back pass but instead of connecting, the ball slipped under his foot and into the open space of Chichizola’s area. The Atletico player just had to collect and slot the ball past the keeper to complete the gifted goal. The reproach from the stands was immediate and Roman would end up being substituted at half time.
It is worth mentioning that this was Roman’s first appearance since the infamous hand ball in the box that gave Belgrano a penalty in the first leg of the relegation playoff. The Paraguayan had been virtually exiled from the first team ever since, but slowly Almeyda started hinting that he would indeed include Roman. His chance came as Ramiro Funes Mori was injured last week, but unfortunately for Roman, it could not have gone any worse. Now the question will be if there will be a third chance.
With Alexis Ferrero on and a two goal deficit, River tried to answer but was ineffective in attack and soft in the midfield. Dominguez and Cavenaghi were well marked while Ocampos and Cirigliano failed to control the center of the field. At times it was painful to watch as River failed to conjure up anything that could come close bothering the Atletico keeper. In the end, there would be no moral victories to be had in what can easily be considered the worst game of the season for River. If anything, the concern will be the knock Cirigliano picked up towards the end of the match.
So a second loss in three games leaves River awaiting the result of the Instituto-Boca Unidos match to know how far behind the league leaders they have fallen. Next is a long journey south to Puerto Madryn to face Guillermo Brown. The main question continues to be when River will finally find some regularity and play on the level expected by the fans and coaching staff.