There was an image, at 37 in the first half, that could be used to synthesize what was the game last night at Bajo Flores. The anatomy of an instant. River had the ball in the midfield, and San Lorenzo was grouped with a line of six defenders and four midfielders. A 6-4 that had two readings: for the millionaire fans, the pettiness of the rival, who on top of that played at home. For the Cuervos fans, an amarretismo – discussed but accepted throughout the championship – that made them reach this date in third position in the League, after suffering all last year.
That diagram – a fairly illustrative photo, but just that: a photo – had its continuity on a field in terrible condition: with thin, dry, yellow grass. And, in turn, that continuity had another: the climate around the Bajo Flores Gasometer. If the team defended like 300 Spartans against the Persian empire (it is not for nothing that it has the historical record that in this entire League they did not score home goals), their fans created the scene of a final. It was a transcendental game that transported people: the field had to be filled, the team had to be encouraged –because the rival was superior, no one can deny it– and the San Lorenzo fans were up to the task. All four sides of the stadium were packed.
Something happened? At least in the first half, almost nothing. River had the ball, San Lorenzo defended and in the initial 45 minutes, neither team knew or could build a dangerous play. Nothing. Some approach that was neutralized in the vicinity of the area defended by Battle, and not much else.
That changed in the second half. Already to the minute, San Lorenzo had the situation that had not had in the first. Braida – one of the figures of the game for both defensive and offensive use – received only in the area after a tumult, defined, but Armani covered below. Nacho Fernández had a similar play on the other goal ten minutes later: he also covered Batalla (although the shot was weaker).
San Lorenzo had another clear one, or almost clear, if it weren’t for the fact that Leguizamón took a long time to define (or because he didn’t engage to be left alone against Armani) and because Paulo Díaz had a providential cross, then completed with another cross from Milton Casco. In their own way, Gallego Insúa’s team took the game to their comfort zone, but everything was interrupted after 24 minutes, when Perrito Barrios –his main card in attack due to the imbalance he generates– arrived at the wrong time and the referee Tello got his second yellow.
It must be said, at least for those who watch the summary on YouTube today or during the week: the second half had nothing to do with the first. Not only because of the dynamics, but because of the risky situations and the minute-by-minute dispute, in the game and in the constant discussion.
The expulsion of Barrios changed everything. San Lorenzo returned to a defensive position and River arrived with more clarity. He met Batalla, one of the explanations for why San Lorenzo does not receive home goals. The last few minutes were holding on as best they could, and hoping that River couldn’t filter the pass or cross between the Barca defense. Everything ended zero to zero, a result that, beyond the procedure, convinced both teams. To one because he is almost nothing away from becoming champion, and to another because he stretched his undefeated fence.