Gabriel Heinze’s Newell’s Old Boys took a point from Platense as the new Liga AFA season got underway for La Lepra on Sunday evening in Buenos Aires.
With a number of debutants in the side, new goalkeeper Lucas Hoyos, who was given the captain’s armband by Heinze, was pushed into the spotlight due to his contributions to goals on both sides.
His long punt up the field was the catalyst for the opening goal from Ramiro Sordo after just ten minutes. Hoyos’ kick went over the entire Platense defence to find Francisco González who calmly touched the airborne ball into the path of Sordo to finish into an empty net.
A rusty-looking Willer Ditta played his part in letting the home side back into the game after 26 minutes when his wayward header dropped kindly for Nicolás Morgantini who finished between the legs of Hoyos. The Newell’s keeper should have kept it out but was perhaps caught off-guard by Morgantini’s weak shot.
The first-half ended one apiece before Newell’s had the perfect opportunity to go in-front when referee Nicolás Ramirez pointed to the spot after a handball in the Platense box. Sordo stepped up to take the spot-kick but he failed to grab his second of the game; Arce saving well to his right.
Buoyed by the Newell’s penalty miss, Martín Palermo’s side went up to the other end and took the lead, helped by calamitous moment from Hoyos. The Newell’s keeper let a high ball bounce over his head before rushing back and attempting to catch it on the line. He managed to prevent the goal initially but spilled it back out to the 6-yard-box before it was passed into the net by Franco Baldassarra after a botched clearance. With 62 minutes played, it took Newell’s just 2 more minutes to pull things back and make it all-square.
The lively Djorkaeff Reasco, on as a substitute, tested Arce from long-range. This time it was the Platense keeper who couldn’t hold onto the ball and Panchito González, probably the best La Lepra player on the day, was there to convert the rebound.
The scrappy affair, possibly compounded by a 3-month break for both teams before this season finally got underway, stayed deadlocked from there on and ended 2-2.
Heinze will see plenty of room for improvement in his team’s first outing but there are a number of new signings and players who are currently injured waiting to come into the side in the coming weeks. Next up for Newell’s is a home tie against Vélez Sarsfield on Friday night in Rosario.
Watch the highlights of the match below.