COPA DE LA LIGA 2021
Newell’s Old Boys 3
🏟️ Estadio Ciudad de Lanús (‘La Fortaleza’), Buenos Aires
Newell’s Old Boys have finally won a game.
It may have taken 4 months, 106 days to be exact, but at the fourth time of asking, Germán Burgos takes three points and remains an unbeaten manager since taking over at the Estadio Marcelo Bielsa a month ago.
Lanús, who Newell’s defeated twice at the end of 2020, were the victims once again.
It was anything but a foregone conclusion and the home side controlled the first-half.
Newell’s started with just one change from the team that drew with Huracán, Pablo Pérez coming in for the injured Julián Fernández, but the tactics and formation were familiar; defend at all costs and from as deep as possible.
It didn’t take Lanús long to unlock the Newell’s defence and Lanús took the lead after just 20 minutes. In truth, it was a fine team goal, starting with the goalkeeper Morales and ending with veteran striker José ‘Pepe’ Sand who finished a pullback from Orozco who had snuck in behind Jerónimo Cacciabue, out of his normal position at right wing-back.
Going behind did something to Newell’s and their confidence built and built from there. A couple of offside calls as the first-half came to an end prevented La Lepra from threatening Lanús’ lead until with just one minute left on the clock, Jonatan Cristaldo bundled his first goal for Newell’s over the line after a corner from the left had been glanced into his path from the front post.
It was to be the last action of the first-half and suddenly, after trailing for much of the first-half, Newell’s had something to fight for in the second-half.
The second-half turned out to be the best performance of the year by Newell’s Old Boys. The players started the second period on the front foot, pressing Lanús, going toe-to-toe for every ball and asserting control of the game.
They should have had a penalty moments after the restart when Cristaldo was taken down by the opposing keeper but the referee was too far away to see it clearly. While Newell’s adapted a set-piece focused strategy that helped them to score in the first-half with increasing threat, Alan Aguerre had to be up to his usual high standard of form at the other end to stop Orozco (51′) and then Orsini (58′) from putting Lanús back in front.
It was the away side that took the lead with an hour on the clock.
Franco Negri, surprisingly impressive since signing as a free agent in February, showed his creativity again by roaming up the left-wing and delivering a ball to his opposite wing-back Jerónimo Cacciabue who had just joined the action in the box. Cacciabue’s first effort was saved by the legs of Morales but the rebound was a save-too-much for the Lanús stopper and La Lepra suddenly found themselves in front.
Minutes after Newell’s took the lead, a major flashpoint in the match occured.
The scorer of Newell’s’ first goal Jonatan Cristaldo went head-to-head with Lanús’ Tomás Belmonte and both players were yellow carded for their troubles. That wasn’t the end of it.
The match had hardly restarted and Belmonte went for “Churry” again. The referee didn’t hesitate to produce a second yellow when Belmonte knocked Cristaldo over and Lanús found themselves having to play the rest of the match with ten men.
Advantage Newell’s, advantage El Mono.
Newell’s took that advantage straight away and took a big step towards moving out of sight with 17 minutes remaining when the influential Jerónimo Cacciabue grabbed his second of the game. Maxi Rodríguez, Franco Negri and Jonatan Cristaldo were all involved in the build-up after Newell’s won the ball in their own half and Cacciabue put the finishing touch on the counter-attack; his third goal in two games.
From there on, it was a breeze for Newell’s against the ten men of Lanús although Alan Aguerre had to be alert to keep out an Ezquivel effort with ten minutes remaining.
Away from home, Germán Burgos will be delighted to have earned a first win as Newell’s boss and even more delighted that his team no longer hold the honour of being the only side in Argentina yet to win in 2021.
Belmonte’s sending off helped but if Newell’s can play the same way as they did in the second half of Monday’s game in forthcoming matches, El Mono’s efforts to put a plug in a once-leaky defence can be the foundations for a new progressive wide collective led by the free-scoring wing-backs Cacciabue and Negri.
The monkey is finally off The Monkey’s back.