COPA DE LA LIGA 2021
Newell’s Old Boys 2
🏟️ Estadio Mario Alberto Kempes, Córdoba
Newell’s Old Boys looked on course for a first win against Talleres in Córdoba since 2001 until debutant Justo Giani was dismissed for a rash challenge with fifteen minutes remaining. With Newell’s down to ten men, Talleres put the pressure on and equalised with six minutes of normal time remaining through a long-range effort from Diego Valoyes.
Prior to the match, Newell’s manager Frank Kudelka had another roll of the dice, making a number of changes and going with a 4-4-2 formation to try and find a winning formula to reverse our poor run of form. In came Maxi Rodríguez, Alexís Rodríguez and Juan Sforza for their first starts of the campaign while Cristian Lema made his return to the side after signing for Newell’s once again for his third spell at the club.
The first 40 minutes of the first-half were cagey, with the home side dominating possession. Cristian Lema slotted back into the Newell’s defence like he’d never left, heading ball after ball out of the Lepra box and being the first to every Talleres forward pass. Although Kudelka’s side nullified the threat from Talleres, they offered little in attack as the strike partnership of Maxi Rodríguez and Ignacio Scocco, with a combined age of 75, begged for service.
With five minutes left in the first-half, the game sprung to life and suddenly Newell’s looked threatening.
Maxi and Scocco linked up well to find Alexís Rodríguez free on the left side of the box. His no-look pass to find Orihuela was smart and the left-back’s shot was on target but rattled the post. Moments later, Maxi went close with a half-volley but as the first-half came to an end, Talleres really should have taken the lead up the other end. It was put on a plate for Retegui who just needed a side foot to hit the net but fluffed his lines, administering an air shot which totally missed the oncoming ball.
With Newell’s struggling in midfield, Frank Kudelka made a half-time change, bringing on Pablo Pérez for the youngster Juan Sforza.
Whatever Talleres manager Alexander Medina said to his side at half-time, it worked, and they took the lead just five minutes after the restart. After missing a chance at the end of the first-half, Mateo Retegui made no mistake when a low cross swept across a crowded Newell’s box on 50 minutes, tapping into Alan Aguerre’s net. For the third time in three matches, Newell’s were behind. Replays showed that the on-loan Boca attacker was marginally offside but VAR hasn’t darkened the door of Argentina yet so the goal stood.
Just five minutes later, Newell’s were handed a lifeline. The influential Lema got forward for a corner and was pulled to the ground within the referee’s line of vision. Facundo Tello didn’t hesitate and pointed straight to the spot
Ignacio Scocco stepped up and finally, after two games without scoring, Newell’s hit the back of the net to make it 1-1.
At one-a-piece, you’d be forgiven for thinking that Talleres would up their game and go on to win but against all odds, it was Newell’s who asserted control.
A minute after a Scocco shot was deflected wide for a corner, Julián Fernández got his head on the end of the resulting set-piece to put the Lepers in front at the Estadio Mario Alberto Kempes. Lema was central to the goal again. Several Talleres players highlighted him as the threat and duly surrounded him, neglecting the presence of Fernández who went completely undetected.
Before Fernández’s goal, former Quilmes attacker Justo Giani had been introduced by Kudelka for his debut and on 75 minutes, he undone some of the good work by Newell’s when he jumped two-footed into a tackle and got a straight red card, just 19 minutes after he’d entered the field.
It was a moment of madness for the 21-year-old who was making his first appearance in the Primera División and he left the field in tears.
With the one goal lead of Newell’s under serious threat, Frank Kudelka withdrew Scocco and Maxi to try and preserve the lead. Unfortunately, it wasn’t enough and with just six minutes remaining on the clock, Colombian substitute Diego Valoyes drove a long-range effort into the net to put Talleres back on level terms.
The Córdoba side pushed hard for a winner but Newell’s keeper Alan Aguerre made an impressive save from Carlos Auzqui to keep it at 2-2 and Talleres were generally wasteful as the clock counted down.
With the draw confirmed, Newell’s finally earned a point in the Copa de la Liga and under-pressure manager Frank Kudelka can breathe a sigh of relief for now.
His decision to play Cristian Lema, despite questions over his fitness, paid dividends but it’s still not clear which offensive players are going to provide a suitable attacking threat for Newell’s in this campaign.