Capping off the title with a typically relentless performance, River Plate were crowned 2021 Liga Profesional champions on Thursday after thrashing Racing Club 4-0 at home.
In the 22nd round of fixtures, in front of a packed Monumental with 70,000 spectators, River dominated the match from start to finish. Goals from Agustín Palavecino (31st minute), Julián Álvarez (47th) and Braian Romero (67th and 77th) rounded off a remarkable win for the Millo, who now celebrate their 37th domestic league title.
The triumph is extra sweet for coach Marcelo Gallardo, as the league title ends a seven-year spell for River without the nation’s top prize. The domestic trophy had been the only one to elude the popular coach’s grasp, which is all the more surprising given that this is the 13th trophy of his seven seasons with the club.
River went on a formidable 17-match unbeaten run to clinch the title, including 14 wins. What looked like a close race to the finish line actually became a stroll. When second-placed Tallers lost 5-2 to Gimnasia on Tuesday, it meant the Millo only needed a point to secure the title.
So assured of victory was Gallardo that he was even happy to field some of his most loyal and trusted veterans, allowing them to return to the team for this special night. Among them 38-year-old defender Javier Pinola and midfielder Leonardo Ponzio, 39, stalwarts of this successful spell.
"This has been happening match by match. We were convinced that if we remained humble, working as we always did with Marcelo [Gallardo], we were going to achieve it. Gallardo keeps the group motivated and focused, and the titles back that up," said Pinola, one of the squad's key players of recent years.
"This is a dream come true. It was a perfect match, with our fans and in a packed stadium. When I arrived at this club I knew I was going to fight for important things, we were able to win titles. It's an immense emotion, an enormous joy," said goalkeeper Franco Armani.