Newell’s Old Boys 4
🏟️ Estadio Marcelo Bielsa, Rosario
Newell’s manager Frank Kudelka called it “almost a perfect performance”. Perhaps he would have liked a better return than four goals from fifteen shots but there was little to complain about. This was a truly devastating and dominating performance from a Newell’s side who look to be improving in every game.
It’s only been a few weeks since Sebastian Palacios and Pablo Pérez were brought in by Kudelka during the summer transfer window but already they seem to be worth their weight in gold. His efforts to rebuild a squad who had come to the brink of relegation must be admired and it was the players that he handpicked to bolster the Newell’s squad prior to the start of this crucial season that were at the forefront of this performance again. Cristian Lema and Santiago Gentiletti at the back, Pérez in midfield, and Palacios in attack were all outstanding. Facundo Nadalín has replaced the injured Angelo Gabrielli without fuss and again impressed with his creative prowess. And what can we say about Maxi Rodríguez that hasn’t already been said? The passion he has for the Newell’s shirt is more integral to his performances on the pitch than his decreasing physical ability at 39 years of age and time and time again, the captain has made the difference for Newell’s.
Indeed it was Maxi who opened the scoring 13 minutes into the game, and from open play too. Newell’s attacked from the start and when Palacios put Nadalín through down the right, he dragged a low ball into the middle which Maxi, despite a less-than-solid connection, bundled the ball over Burián in the Colón goal.
Although Newell’s looked in control from the start, Rodrigo Aliendro’s straight red card for a dangerous tackle on Pablo Pérez in the first-half would give them a one-man advantage for 55 minutes. It didn’t take long for Pérez to make use of that advantage by giving Newell’s their second just before half-time. He made sure the rebound from Sebastian Palacios’ saved effort hit the net in a role reversal from last week’s draw with Lanús when Palacios buried a rebound that came as a result of a Pérez shot.
Luis Leal made it three early into the second half. La Pantera had missed a point-blank range header early in the first half but he made no mistake this time, burying a pinpoint first-time cross from the player who has registered the most assists in this season’s Superliga – Mariano Bíttolo (7).
The reliable centre-half Cristian Lema completed the rout with a free-kick that Lionel Messi would have be proud of. Newell’s fans on Twitter suggested it was the first time La Lepra had scored direct from a free-kick in the league for 10 years (319 games) and the strike was fit for the occasion. Lema, in one shot, has settled any debate around who should be taking free-kicks for Newell’s.
Although the objective for Frank Kudelka was to steer Newell’s clear of relegation, the club is now looking up towards the Copa Libertadores places which was unthinkable just a few months ago. It’s only now that people are starting to realise what a good job he has done so far. With the Copa Superliga still to come, there’s still a lot to play for in terms of the Promedios averages, which decide relegation, but Newell’s are hitting a run-of-form that could see them not only banish talk of relegation but secure an unlikely continental spot.