COPA DE LA LIGA 2021
Newell’s Old Boys 2
🏟️ Estadio Marcelo Bielsa, Rosario
Germán Burgos has taught Newell’s Old Boys how to avoid defeat but the masterclass on winning a football match still hasn’t been held yet.
Since El Mono’s arrival in Rosario, Newell’s haven’t lost but they haven’t won either. In fact, their last win was back in late December 2020 under Frank Kudelka.
A third draw in a row for the ex-Atlético Madrid assistant lifted Newell’s off the bottom of Group B but it’s hard to see them going any further up the table any time soon. Simply put, Newell’s can defend well and occasionally cause trouble from set-pieces, but open-play attacks are few and far between.
Frank Kudelka, now the manager of Huracán, will have been buoyed by the way his side pressured and pushed Newell’s into surrendering their one-goal lead which La Lepra had managed to maintain since the 28th minute. He watched the game from home after contracting COVID-19 earlier this week.
On a warm afternoon in Rosario, Newell’s couldn’t have asked for a better start. Moving into the Huracán half with energy, they forced a throw-in on the right wing. Jerónimo Cacciabue, asked to play right wing-back as part of a back five by Burgos, rifled the ball high into the box. Huracán panicked, failed to clear, and the ball fell to Jonatan Cristaldo. Looking for support, he laid it off to the other wing-back Franco Negri whose first-time shot was sweetly struck, travelling through a crowded box before hitting the net. Negri’s opener was his second goal in two games, having also grabbed the first goal in the 2-2 draw against Atlético Tucumán.
La Lepra’s advantage only held for ten minutes. Huracán were back on level terms after 12 minutes from a set-piece – a corner from the right was hit high into the Newell’s box and striker Nicolás Cordero got great altitude on his jump, meeting the ball perfectly with his head past Newell’s keeper Alan Aguerre.
Newell’s were unshaken by the Huracán goal and pushed to take the lead again soon after. With the wing-backs moving fast up the channels to join every attack, the ball was punted from the left-wing to the right-wing for the rojinegro’s second goal. Negri was involved again, floating it from deep towards the Huracán goal. The flight of the ball missed everyone in the box except for Jerónimo Cacciabue who was loitering unmarked at the back. His finish was sublime; a first-time outside-of-the-boot volley that was steered accurately into the bottom corner.
With Newell’s going on top before the break, they were hit with a double blow before the start of the second half. Julián Fernández took one too many knocks and had to be replaced by debutant Diego Calcaterra while the influential Franco Negri, already with one goal and one assist to his name, was replaced by Juan Pablo Freytes, apparently due to injury.
These changes, along with Newell’s generally running out of energy and steam, contributed to a poor second half performance yielding few opportunities to extend the lead. Jonatan Cristaldo and Maxi Rodríguez had to rely on scraps while the ineffective Alexís Rodríguez was barely involved in the game at all. Burgos’ substituted Maxi, Cacciabue, Alexís and others but their replacements didn’t offer anything more. Interestingly, despite using five substitutes, the Newell’s coach didn’t call on Ignacio Scocco who was left to watch the game from the bench.
With just over ten minutes remaining, Huracán should have been level but for a mix of luck and heroics. From a free-kick, they hit the Newell’s post, then followed up the rebound which Alan Aguerre saved from point-blank range. Amazingly, a third effort was somehow cleared off the line.
They didn’t have to wait long for a deserved equaliser and finally got their reward after 86 minutes. Newell’s had looked leggy and out of ideas for the previous half an hour and their resolve was broken from another high ball into the box. It initially looked like Yonathan Cabral had dealt with the cross but he unfortunately headed it into the path of the Paraguayan Cristian Núñez. Off the ball, Juan Pablo Freytes was pushed to the ground and called for a foul but Núñez played on, fired a shot at goal past Alan Aguerre, and wheeled away in celebration. Goal given and Huracán were back in it.
In truth, the final few minutes were nervy for Newell’s. Frank Kudelka might have been celebrating a famous win from home, in just his second game as Huracán manager since leaving Newell’s, but a late free-kick was blasted against the wall and the referee called it a draw game.
In his pre-match press conference, Burgos seemed happy with how the team had adapted to his new ideas and tactics. He said it would take time for those ideas to turn into victories but that Newell’s were on the right track and had reacted well to his instructions.
Next up for El Mono is a welcome break from the struggle to push the team further up Group B of the Copa De La Liga and a chance to progress in the Copa Argentina with Sarmiento our opponents on 7 April.