COPA DE LA LIGA 2021
Newell’s Old Boys 0
Boca Juniors 1
🏟️ Estadio Marcelo Bielsa, Rosario
In a contest lacking quality, Newell’s fell to a single goal against current champions Boca Juniors at the Estadio Marcelo Bielsa on Sunday night.
Newell’s manager Frank Kudelka made four changes from the side that lost 1-0 to Vélez, bringing in Manuel Llano, Julián Fernández, Mauro Formica and Enzo Cabrera. For Boca, Carlos Tévez had been ruled out of the game earlier after his father sadly died and he had to return to Buenos Aires.
The first-half was 45 minutes to forget for both sides who offered very little in attack.
Boca had the larger share of chances but were wasteful in the final third.
Edwin Cardona, who scored a brace against Newell’s in November, came closest to breaking the deadlock. With 4 minutes on the clock, he found himself in space on the edge of the box and tried to place a shot but it swerved inches wide of the Newell’s goal to the relief of Alan Aguerre who was definitely beaten had it been on target.
Newell’s were dealt a blow after 20 minutes when influential left-back Mariano Bíttolo suffered a painful injury, twisting his leg in the turf. He was replaced by Matías Orihuela who featured for Newell’s for the first time in a year.
Apart from a Villa effort on 34 minutes which Aguerre tipped around the post, the opening half lacked any real clearcut chances and it remained goalless at the break.
Newell’s started the second half with more energy and Mauro Formica could have put the home side in front. His clever feint opened a gap in the Boca defence, leaving him with a clear run on goal. However, El Gato’s choice to shoot from outside the box, when it seemed like he was free to progress further into the box, ultimately proved fruitless as Andrada collected his drive with ease.
It didn’t take long for Frank Kudelka to make changes in the second half and he made a triple substitution on the hour mark, introducing Maxi Rodríguez and his cousin Alexís along with midfielder Jerónimo Cacciabue.
Ten minutes later, Boca were ahead from a set-piece when Izquierdoz headed a free-kick from the right into the Newell’s net – the defender following up his headed goal against Gimnasia last week with another goal in Rosario. Newell’s completely missed his presence in the box and it was as free a header as you’ll see.
Aguerre had to be at his best in the closing minutes to keep it at 0-1 and his save from Villa gave Newell’s a lifeline.
La Lepra pushed for an equaliser as the clock wound down but they never really looked like scoring. In injury-time, Boca keeper Andrada smothered the ball at the feet of Ignacio Scocco, who was isolated throughout the match, and a succession of free-kicks launched into the box were easily collected by the Boca keeper who was largely untested by the home side.
Newell’s now lie joint bottom of Group B of the Copa de la Liga with Patronato after losing their opening two matches. There’s a feeling that Newell’s will improve, especially with new signings Franco Escobar, Jonatan Cristaldo and Cristian Lema yet to play, but the lack of goals is starting to become a concern.
There’s also no doubt that the opening two fixtures, against Vélez and Boca, are likely to offer the biggest challenge to La Lepra in the group and the series of games coming up might offer respite from the losing streak that Newell’s currently find themselves in.
Next up for the rojinegro is a trip to Córdoba to face Talleres, a fixture they’ve struggled with in recent years. Scoring a goal would do the team the world of good and if Cristian Lema and Jonatan Cristaldo can get fit in time for that game, Newell’s might be in a good position to finally get points on the board in the Copa de la Liga.