In a match dominated by VAR, Newell’s came away with a point in the first home game of the new season despite playing much of the second-half with 10 men against San Lorenzo.
In front of a packed Estadio Marcelo Bielsa, with fans still hopeful of an appearance from former academy player Lionel Messi, Newell’s were on the front foot from the start, dominating possession and spending much of the first period in the San Lorenzo half. La Lepra were dealt a blow in the first quarter when Pablo Pérez limped off during his first appearence of the season. Neither side came close to finding the net before the break but the second half sprung the teams into life with Marcos Portillo forcing San Lorenzo goalkeeper Sebastián Torrico into the first save of the match.
Newell’s thought they had a penalty after 52 minutes when Silvio Trucco pointed to the spot for a Federico Gattoni foul on Francisco González. Gattoni received a red card as the last man but the away team surrounded the referee and urged him to review the tackle using VAR, which he duly did. Having reviewed the incident on the screen at the sideline, he reversed his decision, cancelling the penalty and allowing Gattoni to stay on the field. It was the correct decision; González had kicked the turf and gone down rather than being the victim of any infringement.
It wouldn’t be the last time that VAR changed the course of the game for Newell’s and indeed just ten minutes later, Silvio Trucco was back at the screen to assess a strong challenge from Cristian Lema on ex-Newell’s man Jalíl Elías. Elías had a visible lesion on his leg after the tackle and despite Lema winning the ball, Trucco decided it was dangerous play and reduced Newell’s to ten men.
With Javier Sanguinetti’s team forced to play for over 30 minutes with a man less, the boss mixed up the side and made 4 changes in quick succession, introducing fresh legs through the likes of Velázquez, Rossi, Cingolani and the experienced Vangioni.
Newell’s had to keep it tight at the back and did well to nullify the threat of an 11-man San Lorenzo with the clock ticking down. The game was paused with 5 minutes remaining due to a power cut in the stadium and it gave Newell’s enough time to reenergise ahead of a frantic ending in which San Lorenzo called on all units to try and snatch a goal. But it was Newell’s who went closest in the end. Playing on the counter, substitute Genaro Rossi had the best chance to grab a late winner for Newell’s on 95 minutes but his fierce injury-time shot cannoned off the post as the stadium held its breath.
For a team to avoid defeat in any match where they are playing with a man less can be looked on as a good result and while Newell’s were favourites to beat San Lorenzo, it’s a point gained rather than two lost for Javier Sanguinetti’s men.
Watch the highlights of the match below.