River Plate Thrash Kashima Antlers, but the Cracks are Clear

Satish Sekar
By Satish Sekar December 27, 2018 00:07

River Plate Thrash Kashima Antlers, but the Cracks are Clear

By Satish Sekar in Abu Dhabi’s Zayed Sorts City Stadium ©Satish Sekar (December 22nd 2018)

Fresh from their shock defeat on penalties to local side Al Ain, Marcelo Gallardo’s River Plate took out their frustrations on Asian champions Kashima Antlers – eventually. A drab first half had little to recommend it other than Bruno Zuculini’s header from a carelessly conceded corner by Jung Seunghyun.

It coincided with goalkeeper Kwoun Suntae being forced off through injury. He had tried to play through the pain caused by a high challenge by Rafael Santos Borré Maury. The Colombian chased a through-ball and both keeper and Borré tried to kick the ball. Borré connected with Suntae’s foot. He carried on until the corner.

Hitoshi Sagahota’s first task as to pick the ball out of the net. Losing his keeper was a turning point according to Antlers’ coach, Go Oiwa. Earlier goal-line technology had how that Tomaya Inuka’s header from Yasuhi Endo’s corner had been kept out by keeper, German Lux.

It seemed that it was not Gallardo, whose mind was focused on celebrating the historic Copá Libertdadores win over storied local rivals Boca Juniors with their fans, who was satisfied easily. As he promised, he made some changes.

Almost midway through the second half substitute Gonzalo Martínez scored the first of his brace – the second was the pick of the four – a delightful chip from outside the area that gave Sagahota no chance.

If, as expected, Martínez completes his move to MLS outfit Atlanta, what a way to conclude his River Plate career – a spectacular goal that brought a smile to Gallardo’s face.

The scoring was completed by River’s third – a penalty converted by Borré after he was fouled by Seunghyun.
Borré had an excellent goal disallowed on the hour mark for offside after review. He also had a glaring miss before his penalty. But Antlers had no luck. In the last ten minutes both Shoma Doi and Ryota Nagaki hit the woodwork.

There’s no question that River were fully worthy of their win, but not only are South American clubs not competing with Europe, but now with other continents too. The writing has been on CONMEBOL’s wall for quite some time.
Not even the 4-0 drubbing of Kashima Antlers can conceal the fact that not only did Al Ain beat Gallardo’s team, but deserved to.

Gallardo does have a point regarding the preparations – it took 40 days to complete the Libertadores final, and that allowed just 9 day to arrive in the UAE and compete. It was far from ideal preparation and took a toll. Nevertheless, it may be part of a greater malady in South American football – the Club World Cups have long illustrated this. But at least River Plate can return and enjoy raucous celebrations with their fans.

Satish Sekar
By Satish Sekar December 27, 2018 00:07