COPA DE LA LIGA 2021
Newell’s Old Boys 2
🏟️ Estadio Marcelo Bielsa, Rosario
Germán Burgos picked up consecutive wins as manager of Newell’s Old Boys in the Copa de la Liga for the first time thanks to a 2-0 victory for La Lepra at home to Patronato on Saturday night.
The opposition were coming into the game on a three-game winning streak but had lost a number of players to positive COVID-19 infections in the build-up.
The match started at a fast pace with both sides keen to attack. Patronato gave an early scare to Newell’s when Delgadillo flashed a low cross across the Newell’s six yard box but there was no one waiting to get on the end of it.
Unlike Germán Burgos’ previous four matches as Newell’s manager, La Lepra tried to control possession in the first quarter, breaking free from a rigid defensive shape to move into the Patronato box while building play from the back.
When Patronato regained possession, they countered with intent. After forcing the first save of the match out of Alan Aguerre moments earlier, he sprung into action again on 26 minutes to make an outstanding diving save from Lautaro Torres whose curling shot was on-target and headed for the net.
Churry Cristaldo had the ball in the net at the other end just three minutes later but he was offside when Pablo Pérez played him in and the flag went up.
Having already tested Aguerre twice, Patronato were keen to try the third-time-lucky theory. Garay advanced into the box but before he could pull the trigger, Franco Negri rushed back to slide tackle him cleanly, saving Aguerre from another shot on target.
With less than ten minutes left in the first-half, Newell’s went very close to scoring from a Cristian Lema bullet header but for a Matías Ibáñez save. The next header to come towards Ibáñez gave him little chance. Like Churry Cristaldo’s equaliser in the game on Monday against Lanús, a corner from the left gave Patronato all sorts of problems and Diego Calcaterra, starting for the first time for Newell’s, rose above three defenders to head in the opener. It was a great moment for 19-year-old Calcaterra who was filling in for Manuel Capasso out of position at centre-back.
Newell’s led at the break although Patronato had still caused the home side plenty of problems in the first-half.
In the second-half, Patronato resorted to moving the ball out to the wings before floating a number of crosses into the box but Alan Aguerre was first to all of them, collecting them in the air without any major challenge from El Patrón’s forwards.
With 77 minutes on the clock, they did get as close as they’d ever been to the Newell’s goal when the ball took an unfortunate touch behind the Newell’s defence, leaving Junior Arias a huge chance to score from point-blank range. Somehow, substitute Facundo Nadalín, making his return from injury, managed to get back on the line to clear it away.
Another substitute, Enzo Cabrera, got on the end of a Nacho Scocco free-kick with less than 10 minutes remaining but his diving header through a crowded box went wide of the Patronato post.
Germán Burgos had Cristian Lema to thank for another vital clearance with the clock ticking down. El Sicario got himself in front of Junior Arias’ shot after Alan Aguerre surprisingly dropped the ball in the Newell’s box after coming for a high ball.
Patronato continue to push for an equaliser but the Newell’s defence stood strong. With minutes remaining and Newell’s looking to grind out a tight win, Ignacio Scocco showed his manager El Mono Burgos what he could do by adding a second from long-range.
Scocco, left out of the starting lineup by Burgos in the previous three games, took the ball outside of the box and hit an outstanding drive straight into the top corner to put the cherry on the top of the cake for The Lepers.
Scocco has probably underperformed since returning to Newell’s last year but this moment of brilliance reminded everyone what he can do.
As Burgos wanted, Newell’s defended solidly with the back trio of Lema, Cabral and Calcaterra working well in tandem, throwing themselves at any ball that came into the box.
With just two days until the next game, the focus for Newell’s now turns to the Copa Sudamericana and the away opener on Tuesday in Brazil against Atlético Goianiense.