Fans run riot as River Plate sink to second tier

view gallery VIEW GALLERY

River Plate fans reacted to the first relegation in their club’s 110-year history with a violent rampage that put 25 police officers in hospital.

It’s almost as unthinkable as Barcelona playing in the Blue Square Premier but the most successful club in Argentina has slipped out of the top flight.



With River’s fate sealed fans rushed onto the pitch in an effort to make good on their pre-game “kill or be killed” threat. As players and coaching staff ran for cover pitched battles between police and supporters sprang up in and around El Monumental stadium.



Police deployed water canons in an attempt to cool things off but with 60,000 disgruntled supporters spilling onto the streets they found themselves overmatched.



Fans demonstrated their displeasure by throwing punches, kicks, iron bars, dustbins, bicycles and anything else close by at the police. Other sections of supporters took out their anger on local businesses and residents as they looted shops and torched cars.



When order was eventually restored it was more by coincidence than design that there had been no fatalities. One police officer was airlifted from the scene with a head wound to join his colleagues in hospital while 40 fans suffered injuries and 50 arrests were made.



Relegation was never supposed to be on the menu for the club that delights in calling itself Los Millonarios. For a kick-off there are a string of safeguards in place designed specifically to protect the big boys of Buenos Aires.



An average points tally from league campaigns over the previous three years determines the drop zone in Argentina. A club like River with 33 titles in the bank can suffer the odd bad season and still retain their place at the top table.



If the worse comes to the worse and a club of River’s stature ends up in a relegation double header with a team from Primera B, the playing field is still far from level. The team from the top-flight play the decisive second leg at home and for the tie to end in favour of the second tier outfit they must win outright on aggregate. No extra-time, no away goals, no fair!



It was essential therefore that River’s opponents Belgrano did some damage in the first leg and they duly delivered a 2-0 win in Cordoba. River fans also had no small part to play in this fixture as they staged a pitch invasion that held up the second half for 20 minutes.



In the return fixture River were back in it almost immediately as Mariano Pavone halved the deficit within the first five minutes. Shortly after the goal the hosts had a stonewall penalty turned down as referee Sergio Pezzotta seemed to react to bribery claims by favouring the minnows.

As the game wore on River were forced to commit more and more men forward and they were punished on the hour mark when Guillermo Farré tapped in following a swift Belgrano counter-attack.



When River did finally catch a break from Pezzotta they failed to capitalise as Juan Carlos Olave held Pavone’s tame spot-kick.



The writing was on the wall with a minute of normal time remaining when River fans entered the playing surface and gave Pezzotta no option but to blow up.



Few will find River’s calamity more amusing than fans of Boca Juniors, but they themselves would do well to remember that they start next season deep in the relegation mire.

For more South American football, listen to The South American Football Show in association with The Independent. Click here for more details.



PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
From Mean Girls to Mamet: Lindsay Lohan
theatre
Sport
Nathaniel Clyne (No 2) drives home his side's second goal past Arsenal’s David Ospina at the Emirates
footballArsenal 1 Southampton 2: Arsène Wenger pays the price for picking reserve side in Capital One Cup
News
Mike Tyson has led an appalling and sad life, but are we not a country that gives second chances?
peopleFormer boxer 'watched over' crash victim until ambulance arrived
Arts and Entertainment
Geena Davis, founder and chair of the Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media
tv
News
i100
Travel
travelGallery And yes, it is indoors
Life and Style
tech
Arts and Entertainment
The Tiger Who Came To Tea
booksJudith Kerr on what inspired her latest animal intruder - 'The Crocodile Under the Bed'
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
British actor Idris Elba is also a DJ and rapper who played Ibiza last summer
film
News
Alan Bennett criticised the lack of fairness in British society encapsulated by the private school system
peopleBut he does like Stewart Lee
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

Syria air strikes: ‘Peace President’ Obama had to take stronger action against Isis after beheadings

Robert Fisk on Syria air strikes

‘Peace President’ Obama had to take stronger action against Isis after beheadings
Will Lindsay Lohan's West End debut be a turnaround moment for her career?

Lindsay Lohan's West End debut

Will this be a turnaround moment for her career?
'The Crocodile Under the Bed': Judith Kerr's follow-up to 'The Tiger Who Came to Tea'

The follow-up to 'The Tiger Who Came to Tea'

Judith Kerr on what inspired her latest animal intruder - 'The Crocodile Under the Bed' - which has taken 46 years to get into print
BBC Television Centre: A nostalgic wander through the sets, studios and ghosts of programmes past

BBC Television Centre

A nostalgic wander through the sets, studios and ghosts of programmes past
Lonesome George: Custody battle in Galapagos over tortoise remains

My George!

Custody battle in Galapagos over tortoise remains
10 best rucksacks for backpackers

Pack up your troubles: 10 best rucksacks for backpackers

Off on an intrepid trip? Experts from student trip specialists Real Gap and Quest Overseas recommend luggage for travellers on the move
Secret politics of the weekly shop

The politics of the weekly shop

New app reveals political leanings of food companies
Beam me up, Scottie!

Beam me up, Scottie!

Celebrity Trekkies from Alex Salmond to Barack Obama
Beware Wet Paint: The ICA's latest ambitious exhibition

Beware Wet Paint

The ICA's latest ambitious exhibition
Pink Floyd have produced some of rock's greatest ever album covers

Pink Floyd have produced some of rock's greatest ever album covers

Can 'The Endless River' carry on the tradition?
Sanctuary for the suicidal

Sanctuary for the suicidal

One mother's story of how London charity Maytree helped her son with his depression
A roller-coaster tale from the 'voice of a generation'

Not That Kind of Girl:

A roller-coaster tale from 'voice of a generation' Lena Dunham
London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice. In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence

London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice

In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence
Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with Malcolm McLaren

Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with McLaren

Designer 'felt pressured' into going out with Sex Pistols manager
Jourdan Dunn: Model mother

Model mother

Jordan Dunn became one of the best-paid models in the world