Some things went better than others for Vélez on Sunday night according to @VelezinEnglish
This game is a tough one to sum up. First of all, because it was a long day for me and I didn't have much sleep afterwards. Fuck the sunday 9.30 p.m. time slot. Second of all because I still don't know what to make of the game.
Sunday was lovely. I had beautiful day at the club, the sun shined and there were Vélez fans from all over the country (and other countries as well) and the energy they brought to the newly-looking Amalfitani was something different, it truly felt like a special occasion.
It also felt different on the pitch because Heinze decided to push back Gastón Giménez to form a backline of three (Presumably because he wasn't comfortable with the idea of leaving centre backs one on one against Pratto and Santos Borré), with Galdames coming on in order to keep three men in central midfield at the expense of De La Fuente..
That energy and that tactical tweak looked to have effect as Vélez looked better than River in the beginning. It wasn't a dominant performance by any means, but could get the ball back quickly, play out from the back efficiently and move the ball close to Armani's goal. And then a golden chance arrived: Robertone stole Pinola the ball high up and the bald defender brought him down in the box as Lucas was getting ready to shoot. Salinas took the penalty and his low shot was too centered, allowing Armani to block it with his legs. It wasn't a well taken penalty by any means, but credit has to be given to Armani. Inmediately afterwards the River goalkeeper denied Salinas again.
After that, some of the positive energy was sapped from the stadium and the team, and as the first half went on it was obvious that River was making things more even or at very least they were doing a better job of disrupting Vélez' passing lanes. In the second half it became clearer that Heinze was starting to lose the Grass Chess game to Gallardo, although River took the advantage with a Santos Borré chip over Hoyos before they could really assert themselves. After that, Vélez looked increasingly confused as River pressed better, won more 50/50 balls and took better advantage of the space that Bouzat and Galdames left vacated but weren't supposed to fill anyway. The substitutions didn't help, in fact, only exacerbated the issue.
Despite the flow of the game Vélez kept going and had chances to find an equaliser which were either wasted or saved by Armani, but River put the game beyond reach when Suarez pounced on a Giménez mistake and won a penalty for River which earned Giménez an undeserved red card. Vélez found a glimmer of hope on added time when Barreal pulled one back after a goalmouth scramble, but had no time left to pull the comeback.
There's no shame in defeat against South American champions, but the team had its chances and didn't take them. River might have been the better team with better players, but their goalkeeper was their key man. The refereeing was generally awful, but the Giménez sending off hurt Vélez this game and the next one too. The atmosphere was great at the Amalfitani, yet the game ended a run of one year without defeats at home. The coach foresaw the game well before it started, but couldn't see the adjustments as the second half went on. There were too many contradictions to make sense of it. It feels weird yet it feels familiar. It's been another game where the team could have won but came undone. The only thing I know is that everything makes more sense when Vélez wins.