Club America from Mexico traveled to Buenos Aires, Argentina to play River Plate in the Estadio " El Monumental" on Thursday night. The "Aguilas" of America went into the match on top of Group 7, but the Argentineans had to be the clear favorite for winning the match. And why shouldn't they? They had won 4 straight matches in the Argentine Clausura and scoring 16 goals in the process. So when the "Aguilas" took the field, it was expected of them to bow down to the Argentine side. However the exact opposite happened, as the "Aguilas" bullied River for a 1-0 victory. America opened the match putting intense pressure on the "Los Millonarios" backfield. The squad from Mexico came to win and their mission was accomplished after 90 minutes. The lone goal came in the 22nd minute of the match when Hugo Norberto Castillo sent a cross from about 25 yards on the left side of the pitch into River's penalty area. Midfielder Frank Oviedo trapped the ball and sent a low left footed shot into the net past River's goalie Angel Comizzo. River had their chances, most of them coming from set pieces, but they were never able to beat a determined America defense. Finally in the 32nd minute the frustration started showing for River, as a pushing match between Ariel Ortega and Oviedo. The "Los Millonarios" started to do their best Golden Globe performances to create more set pieces. Unfortunately for them, this strategy worked and the worse acting began to take place on the pitch. Then to make matters worse, Ortega limped off the pitch right before the end of the first half. He had to be replaced by Juan Esnaider. The second half wasn't much better, with River dominating the possession on the field but they still were not able to crack America's tight defense. In the 75th minute Raul Lara was sent off for a bad tackle on Andres D'Alessandro, which gave River a man advantage. However, couldn't take do anything with the advantage, as America was packing 9-10 people in the backfield and just started to kick the ball back towards the Argentine goal.
This victory will send ripples in more than just the Copa Libertadores. Along with Ortega, right side playmaker, Eduardo Coudet left the field with an injury. The final word on how serious the injury is has yet to be said, but one can see River not breezing through the 2002 Clausura. River was not the same without Ortega up front. On the other hand Club America will be totally in charge in Group 7, on top of the table 5 points clear of Talleres. River Plate will somehow have to correct their Copa Libertadores play or find themselves on the sideline of the tournament. VIVA AMERICA !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
River Plate -- 1-Angel Comizzo; 14-Ariel Garcé, 2-Celso Ayala, 21-Ricardo Rojas; 8-Eduardo Coudet (20-Daniel Fonseca, '65), 18-Claudio Husain (15-Guillermo Pereyra, '74), 19-Esteban Cambiasso, 23-Cristian Ledesma, 11-Andrés D'Alessandro; 10-Ariel Ortega (9-Juan Esnaider, '46), 30-Fernando Cavenaghi
América de México -- 1-Hugo Pineda; 2-Jesús López, 3-Duilio Davino, 16-Ricardo Rojas, 13-Pavel Pardo; 18-Germán Villa, 3- José Castro (6-Raúl Lara, '69), 10-Hugo Castillo (15-Luis Hernández, '57), 7-Frankie Oviedo; 20-Raúl Salinas, 9-Iván Zamorano (11-José Mendoza, '87)