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River Plate trawls the depths
by Ian Plenderleith, October 21st, 2008 7AM
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[ARGENTINA] River Plate failed to seize a chance at the weekend to try and kickstart its season anew by beating bitter rivals Boca Juniors at home in the Buenos Aires derby. Instead, a 1-0 defeat against a team reduced to 10 men means that only goal difference prevents it from sitting at the very bottom of the league.

The game's only goal came eight minutes after Boca had seen Hugo Ibarra red-carded for verbally abusing one of the assistant referees while disputing the award of a throw-in, which must rank as one of the most dim-witted reasons to be dismissed alongside getting yellow-carded twice for time-wasting. Despite being a man short, Boca's Juan Roman Riquelme sent in a free kick for Lucas Viatri to convert with his head just past the hour mark.

Riquelme had made up his differences with Paraguayan teammate Julio Cesar Caceres, who during international week had given a radio interview from the safety of the Paraguay national team camp complaining that Riquelme wasn't trying hard enough for his club, and that he saved his best play for Argentina. The two players hugged at the end of the game, with a defeat of River Plate obviously serving to unite them.

The defeat leaves River Plate with eight points after 10 games, and in second to last place above Rosario Central only on goal difference. Coach Diego Simeone confessed that it "hurts" to see the reigning champion in such a low position. "Neither team played well," he claimed, "but they took advantage of a set piece." Which seems to vaguely imply some level of unfairness without actually saying so.

San Lorenzo stayed five points clear at the top thanks to an Andres Nestor Silvera goal in a 1-0 win over San Martin Tucuman, the newly promoted side that's starting to struggle after a good early run. Tigre beat Lanus 3-0 to stay second, with two more goals from Martin Morel. After its derby win, Boca is fourth behind Newell's Old Boys.



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