Oct 20 (Reuters) - River Plate continue to set a high standard in the Argentine championship with the weekend’s 3-0 home win over bogey team Belgrano extending their unbeaten run to 18 matches this season.
This did not, however, prevent Belgrano’s former River goalkeeper Juan Carlos Olave from having a dig at the league leaders over his team’s role in their relegation at El Monumental four years ago.
“This time River beat us well and showed off their skills but it looks like it still hurts,” said Olave, whose side upset River in a 2011 promotion-relegation playoff in which he saved a crucial penalty.
“It’s obvious they needed to give vent (to their frustration) but it took four years,” he told reporters after River’s first home win over Belgrano since that fateful day.
Belgrano have consolidated their place in the top flight after that promotion.
“We’re always going to have that reminder and they too I won’t forget (River) fans set fire to their stadium,” added Olave, who had a season at River in 2005/06.
But under coach Marcelo Gallardo, a former River and Argentina midfielder, they have been putting to rest years of frustration and poor play by their exalted standards that was only partially cured with last season’s title under Ramon Diaz.
Gallardo has yet to taste defeat as River’s coach, the most negative result being elimination from the Copa Argentina knockout competition on penalties.
River lead the first division standings with 28 points from 12 matches, four more points than Lanus and five ahead of Independiente, who also both won at the weekend.
Gallardo said the team treated the pressure from the chasing group of teams as an incentive to play better rather than a worry.
“It’s good that no-one wants to drop out (of the race). That keeps us focused on what’s ahead,” he told reporters.
“We’ve been involved in a lot of competition and it’s tough to handle but the mentality of this group (of players) is strong and the will to play well is there,” added Gallardo, whose team are also playing the regional Copa Sudamericana.
Defender Leonel Vangioni put River ahead in the 34th minute and Colombia’s Teo Gutierrez, back from international duty after missing the 1-0 win at Newell’s Old Boys, added two in the second half to take his tally as the league’s top scorer to 10 in eight matches.
Rosario Central beat Newell’s Old Boys 2-0 at home for their third successive victory in the city derby, known as “clasico rosarino”. Newell’s had two players sent off in the final quarter of an hour.
Independiente beat Libertadores Cup champions San Lorenzo, who are struggling badly with the Club World Cup looming in December, 2-1 at the Nuevo Gasometro.
Copa Sudamericana holders Lanus won 2-1 away to promoted Defensa y Justicia, who are in their first season in the top flight, and fourth-placed Racing Club continued their good run with a 2-0 home victory over Velez Sarsfield, their third win on the trot.
Boca Juniors came from behind to win 3-2 at Godoy Cruz and climb to fifth eight points off the pace, recovering from a humiliating 1-0 home defeat by modest Paraguayan side Deportivo Capiata in the first leg of their Copa Sudamericana last-16 tie in midweek. (Editing by Mitch Phillips)