COPA DIEGO ARMANDO MARADONA
Newell’s Old Boys 3
🏟️ Estadio Marcelo Bielsa, Rosario
Lanús came to Rosario on Sunday night knowing that a win would send them into the ‘Winners’ stage of the Copa Diego Maradona where a spot in the 2022 Copa Libertadores is at stake. A few hours later, they left the Estadio Marcelo Bielsa frustrated after Newell’s took advantage of Matías Pérez’s 46th minute red card to push Lanús to the bottom of the group, restoring a little bit of pride in the process.
It couldn’t have started any better for the Granate, who went ahead after 18 minutes. Di Placido’s cross evaded both Guanini and Nadalín, who misjudged the flight of the ball completely, allowing Franco Orozco to sneak in at the back post and open the scoring.
The opening goal seem to plant a seed in Newell’s and things improved for the home team from then on. Within ten minutes, they had equalised when Panchito González bravely won the ball back before Pablo Pérez played a measured through ball for attacker Sebastián Palacios. The man known as ‘Tucu’, due to his origins in the state of Tucumán, took the ball in his stride and hit a first time shot across Lautaro Morales’ goal. It rattled the net and Newell’s were level.
With ten minutes remaining in the first half, a major flashpoint saw Lanus’ young centre-back Matías Pérez booked for dissent along with his manager Luis Zubeldía who berated the referee for decisions that went in the favour of Newell’s. Both teams went into the break with a goal apiece.
The second half had barely started when Pérez caught the attention of referee Ariel Penel again. The Lanús defender jumped for a header with Newell’s captain Maxi Rodríguez, elbowing him into the back of the head. Penel didn’t hesitate to produce a second yellow for Pérez and Lanús were left having to play the majority of the second half with just ten men.
From there on, it was all Newell’s as La Lepra pressed hard to try and go in front with a one-man advantage.
Mariano Bíttolo went close after his deflected cross hit the post while Maxi Rodríguez was frustrated by Lautaro Morales after a double effort ended up with the ball behind the goal.
Just when it looked like both teams would leave with a point apiece and with Newell’s failing to unlock 10 men again, substitute Mauro Formica put La Lepra in front after a goalmouth scramble.
At least three shots were blocked by the Lanús backline and the keeper as the ball ping-ponged around the box. It looked like the scramble was over but when Morales failed to cleanly push the ball away from the feet of substitute Alexís Rodríguez, another substitute pounced. El Gato Formica who has suffered with injuries throughout the year, hammered the ball home through the crowded box much to the delight of his teammates and manager.
Newell’s wouldn’t just settle for an 89th minute winner.
With the capitulation of Lanús complete, ‘Tucu’ Palacios grabbed his second well into injury-time after being played through by the resurgent Jerónimo Cacciabue. Morales got a hand to his shot but couldn’t keep it out.
The 3-1 scoreline may flatter Newell’s slightly but there are positives to take from the win. The three goals scored by Newell’s were a feat in itself considering the absence of Ignacio Scocco while the performances of youngsters like González and Cacciabue (who showed flashes of his 2019 form) instilled confidence in the side. Somehow, Newell’s avoided finishing Group 4 in the bottom position and that goes down as another positive takeaway from the result.
Newell’s Old Boys will now progress to the ‘Copa Sudamericana’ stage of the competition where all of the 3rd and 4th placed teams will battle it out for a place in the 2022 edition of South America’s secondary continental competition.