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River Plate secure Copa Libertadores win despite playing injured midfielder in goal

Ross Jackson
Midfielder Enzo Pérez was the star of the show as he played between the sticks
Midfielder Enzo Pérez was the star of the show as he played between the sticks / Pool/Getty Images
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If you walk past any football field on a Sunday morning you're bound to see at least one team on the absolute bones of its a**e trying desperately to scrape their way to the final whistle.

Popular sights include a goalkeeper chaining cigarettes behind the goal, a right-back puking up last night's (or this morning's to be more precise) vodka on the sidelines and a stand-in linesman trying harder to stop his jeans falling down to his ankles than to actually keep up with play.

Still, it's nice to know that sort of behaviour is purely confined to the amatuer game - or is it?

River Plate secured a 2-1 win against all the odds
River Plate secured a 2-1 win against all the odds / Pool/Getty Images

River Plate hosted Colombian outfit Independiente Santa Fe in the early hours of Thursday morning in the Copa Libertadores - the South American version of the Champions League - needing a win to strengthen their bid for qualification from Group D.

Heading into the crucial clash, manager Marcelo Gallardo was rocked by the news 20 of his squad had tested positive for coronavirus and would subsequently be unavailable for selection - alright, so the hungover Sunday League side analogy wasn't quite fair on them, but you get the jist.

Along with the COVID-19 outbreak, River also had a number of injuries to contend with and, subsequently, had just 11 players at their disposal.

With an absolute hammering looking like being on the cards, Gallardo's biggest dilemma came in the shape of who he was going to play in goal. All four of the club's registered goalkeepers were among those unavailable and their request to register their fifth and sixth choice shot-stoppers had been denied.

What a night for Enzo Perez and his River teammates
What a night for Enzo Perez and his River teammates / Pool/Getty Images

So, the Argentinian tactician did the only thing he could and chucked injured midfielder Enzo Perez in goal. Obviously.

Just to re-emphasise - this is the South American equivalent of the Champions League. Imagine Chelsea preparing themselves to face Real Madrid a few weeks ago and they look over to see Lucas Vazquez hobbling onto the pitch wearing goalkeeper gloves.

Clearly it was a case of damaged limitations from the first whistle - oh apart from the fact that they only went and bloody won!

The home side raced out of the traps and were 2-0 up within six minutes thanks to goals from Fabrizio Angileri and Julian Alvarez. Independiente Santa Fe dominated the remainder of the game, enjoying 70% of the possession and even mustering 22 shots on goal - though only five were on target.

Enzo Perez celebrates with his teammates
Enzo Perez celebrates with his teammates / Pool/Getty Images

Well, we say 'only five', that means they had five shots at an injured midfielder and still got beat.

In fairness, they did manage to finally beat Perez late on as Kelvin Osorio halved the deficit, though the home side stood strong to record the most improbable of victories to move into top spot in Group D.

Proper comic book stuff but we absolutely love it.


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