River Plate edges Everton in Edmonton
Ariel Ortega's goal in the 27th minute gave Argentina's River Plate a 1-0 win over English Premier League side Everton in a soccer friendly on Saturday night in Edmonton.
Ortega found a lane and calmly chipped a right-footer 20 yards over Everton goalkeeper Carlo Nash's head into the top corner of the net, providing the only goal for 15,800 fans at Commonwealth Stadium.
River Plate is now 2-0 in exhibition play on a three-game North American tour, defeating Toronto FC 4-3 on penalty kicks earlier in the week.
"We're very happy with the win," said River Plate's Rodrigo Archubi through a translator. "It's always good to beat an opponent who is so well known throughout the world. And the fact that they are English is just an added bonus."
It was Everton's first of two games on a quick North American swing, coming to Edmonton on game day from training camp in Seattle.
"You never like losing a game," said Everton forward Tim Cahill. "Especially when you see the team lifting a cup at the end of it. But it was a good experience playing here in Canada. I would have liked to have won the game and been on the scoresheet but it doesn't always go your way."
River Plate had an early chance in the 10th minute as Cristian Villagra fought off a defender and lofted a pass in tight to Archubi but Nash, in for usual Everton starter Tim Howard, was able to bat away the header.
The Toffees responded with a tremendous chance of their own in the 20th minute as forward Jo undressed River Plate's Nicolas Donigo with some nifty footwork and sent the ball to Cahill in front, but he was thwarted by a diving save from Argentine goalie Mario Daniel Vega.
After Ortega's goal, River Plate came looking for more in the 34th minute as Villagra sent a pass through the Everton crease with Nash out of the play, but none of his teammates could get to the loose ball.
It very nearly became a 2-0 game in the 43rd minute as Ortega sent a pass through to Matias Abelairas that caught Nash out of position, but the midfielder rang his shot off the post with an empty net to shoot at to keep it a one-goal game at the half.
Everton had a solid opportunity to pull even in the 46th minute as Jo danced through a pair of River players before hitting the side of the net.
Fans hoping to see storied Everton captain Phil Neville, who left Manchester United to join Everton in 2005, had to wait until the 69th minute when he finally came in as a substitute.
Everton supporters believed they should have received a penalty shot in the 85th minute when forward Louis Saha was tripped up going for a cross in the crease, but the English club otherwise had few chances to tie the game in the second half.
Everton closes out its North American tour with a match against the MLS All-Stars on Thursday in Utah. River Plate will remain in Edmonton for a pre-season training camp until heading to Montreal for a game against the Impact on Aug. 3.