Offshore drilling, Argentina: River Plate 2, at Estudiantes 0

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The second Saturday of Argentina’s Torneo Inicial kicked off with two transitioning giants meeting in La Plata, with Estudiantes hosting the newly promoted River Plate.

Man of the Match: Rogelio Funes Mori scored only four times last season in the second division. Today, he cashed in twice, using his speed to beat high Estudiantes lines in the 54th and 67th minutes. Both times, the 21-year-old striker waited for Paraguayan international Justo Villar to give up the right side of goal. Both times, he made the finishes look easy.

Packaged for takeaway:

  • The clubs came into this match at the opposite ends of the standings, albeit after one round. Estudiantes opened their season on Monday with a victory at Tigre, while River Plate were handed a disappointing home loss Sunday by Belgrano.
  • For Estudiantes, Monday’s result was a strong start to the their post-Juan Sebastian Veron era, the talismanic midfielder having retired at the end of the last tournament.
  • Estudiantes nearly struck first, with Gaston Fernández’s restart finding veteran Leandro De Sabato at the far post in the 12th minute, just inside the six yard box. The defender was poor with a header put back across goal, the shot toward a relatively empty net going far wide of the right post.
  • The foul came down Estudiantes’ right side, where the home side targeted their attacks throughout the first half. There, they had Maxi Nunez matched up against River left back Ramiro Funes Mori (Rogelio’s twin brother). The defender held up well, which meant Estudiantes, persistent with their tactic, did very little to threaten Marcelo Barovero’s goal in the first half.
  • Estudiantes’ other tactic: Get the ball to Fernández. La Gata had freedom to do whatever he wants in Matias Almeyda’s 4-4-2. If Veron was the focal point before, Fernández is now.
  • The attacking Funes Mori was River’s outlet as they tried to build opportunities for David Trezeguet, but with Estudiantes’ Roman Martínez and Rodrigo Braña clogging up play through the middle, River’s only real chance of the half can off a 24th set piece Trezeguet forced Justo Villar to push just wide of goal.
  • In the second half, Rogelio Funes Mori broke through. In the 54th minute, he burst through the right side of Estudiantes’ defense onto a ball from Trezeguet. De Sabato tried to help from his left-center back position, but he chose a poor angle and took himself out of the play. Poking the ball past an oncoming Villar, Funes Mori gave River the opening score.
  • In the 67th minute, Funes Mori struck again, again beating a high Estudiantes line to go in alone on Villar. This time, it took some luck, as ball blocked by River in midfield ended up behind Estudiantes’ high line. Funes Mori blew by defender Agustin Alayes and finished in the right side of Villar’s net.
  • As important as it was to get their first win of the season, for River, the performance itself was more telling. A 2-0 win at Estudiantes looks impressive on paper. That the score was deserved should give the team confidence early the Inicial.
  • For Estudiantes, it’s a disappointing result, but there’s no reason to sound the alarms. They needed more variety in attack, and their high line didn’t hold up well again Funes Mori, but River didn’t uncover any major cracks.

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