LIMA – River Plate began its Copa Libertadores title defense on Wednesday with a 1-1 draw against Alianza Lima, sealed in the last minute of stoppage time with a stunning free kick by Cristian Ferreira.
The Argentine player sent a lofted shot, which snuck under the crossbar and bounced off goalkeeper Pedro Gallese’s hand into the net to level the score.
The leveler came after a penalty in the 80th minute by Colombian Rafael Santos Borre and Jose Manzaneda had put Alianza Lima a lead with a goal in the 31st minute.
River sought to dominate from the first minute of play, aggressively controlling the ball and executing precise passes, against a cautious Alianza.
Goalkeeper Gallese blocked the first clear scoring opportunity in the 18th minute by Enzo Perez while Alianza made its first goal attempt around the 20th minute.
Although Lucas Pratto always responded down the middle for River, it was Alianza that had another clear chance to score in the 26th minute when Affonso got the ball but sent a feeble shot into the hands of Franco Armani.
Alianza finally opened their scoring with an inspired goal by Manzaneda, who joined the attack in addition to discharging his duties as a winger in the left field.
In the 54th minute, Gallese saved an attempt by Pratto and, in the 63rd minute, Matias Suarez hit a header, while Quevedo responded for Alianza in the 65th with an unsuccessful shot at goal.
In the 79th minute, a center in Javier Pinola’s area struck the extended arm of Rodrigo Cuba and the referee, Colombian Wilmar Roldan, awarded River a penalty.
Borre made the shot to the right and at medium height, but Gallese showed his reflexes to deflect it to safety.
Finally, in the 96th minute, Ferreira executed his brilliant free kick, which beat all efforts of the Peruvian goalkeeper and allowed River to rescue a point at Lima’s National Stadium.