River Plate runs dry in shock Libertadores Cup exit
BUENOS AIRES – Copa Libertadores holders River Plate were bundled out by modest Ecuadorean side Independiente del Valle in the Round of 16 despite beating them 1-0 at El Monumental.
Independiente went through 2-1 on aggregate thanks to their 2-0 home win at high altitude in Quito last week, when they scored the decisive second goal with a penalty five minutes into added time.
The Argentine giants, who won their third South American club title last year, squandered a string of chances including an Andres D’Alessandro shot that hit the bar, before substitute Lucas Alario scored the only goal in the 78th minute.
“That’s it, it’s over,” River coach Marcelo Gallardo told reporters. “We did everything to win… I’m sad because it was a match we should have won.
“We had a year-and-a-half full of joy and success,” he added. “We need to start again from zero… We’ve been playing with petrol left in the tank from 2014.”
River won the Argentine league championship in May 2014, the Copa Sudamericana, South America’s second tier club tournament, the following December and the Libertadores last August.
However, their form has been poor this year with three wins in 13 matches in the first division championship and only one convincing performance in the Libertadores when they beat Bolivia’s The Strongest 6-0 at home last month.
Independiente, in Ecuador’s top flight since 2009 and in the Libertadores for the first time, go through to a quarter-final tie against UNAM Pumas of Mexico, who eliminated Venezuela’s Deportivo Tachira 2-1 on aggregate on Tuesday.
Six times champions Boca of Argentina look set to progress to the quarter-finals when they host Paraguay’s Cerro Porteno at La Bombonera on Thursday, holding a 2-1 lead from the first leg in Asuncion.
Four former champions through to the last eight are Atletico Nacional of Colombia, Brazilian sides Sao Paulo and Atletico Mineiro and Uruguay’s Nacional. -Reuters