Juan Veron On The Spot as Newell's Lend Estudiantes a Helping Hand
The first round of matches in Argentina is fully underway, and one of the tournament's favorites, Estudiantes de La Plata, have gotten off to a winning start thanks to a senseless handball from Newell's Old Boy's defender Gabriel Cichero.
In a game void of imagination and fluidity and filled with niggling fouls, it was fitting the match was decided by a lapse in judgment rather than a piece of brilliance.
Twenty minutes from time, the 26-year-old Venezuelan Cichero lost his field presence and handled a long ball over the top intended for Leandro Gonzalez, giving referee Nestor Pittana no choice but to point to the penalty spot.
There was never any doubt that Veron would take the responsibility, and the club legend did not disappoint, fiercely blasting his spot kick into the roof of the net.
Veron, who was controversially left out of the line-up when Argentina were thrashed 4-0 by Germany in the World Cup Quarterfinals last month, had decided to not discuss what happened at the World Cup and instead focus on club football, and tonight he let his play do the talking.
The 35-year-old playmaker was one of the few bright spots of the match, showing flashes of individual skill while linking up with Gata Fernandez and Leandro Benitez, who wowed the away supporters with a few slick touches and backheels.
Although Estudiantes saw the majority of the ball and Veron managed the game in his typical fashion, Newell's will feel hard done as Sebastian Taborda saw his goal disallowed when captain Rolando Schiavi was adjudged to have interfered with play from an off-side position.
In the second half, just minutes after Estudiantes had taken the lead, Newell's looked to have won a penalty of their own when Estudiantes goalkeeper Agustin Orion fouled Borgello in the area and Pittana pointed to the spot.
However, the assistants flag had been raised for an apparent off sides against Leandro Velazquez, although replays showed the call to be incorrect.
With three lucky points in the bag, Estudiantes will feel relieved, but also wary of what is to come.
Winger Jose Sosa has returned to Bayern Munich after a sensational loan spell in La Plata last season, while striker Mauro Boselli has moved on to English football with Wigan.
The absence of those two stars caused Estudiantes to lack the needed punch in the final third of the field, an area where they dominated in recent tournaments, especially the 2009 Copa Libertadores when they became champions.
After Newell's get over the anger at the referee and his assistant, they will also feel that the team does not have the quality to challenge for titles at the moment.
Creativity was only generated from playmaker Mauricio Formica, who cannot be expected to shoulder the load all season long.
Both team entered the night with feelings that they could protagonists in the Apertura, but after they will certainly feel less confident.
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