River suffer historic drop

River Plate, the most successful club in Argentinian football, were relegated from the Clausura on Sunday for the first time in their history.

The Buenos Aires giants went into their promotion play-off against second-tier side Belgrano needing to overturn a 2-0 first-leg deficit, but fell short, drawing the return leg 1-1 at a sold-out Monumental.

It started promisingly for River when they went ahead through Mariano Pavano after just six minutes, but they failed to build on the lead and Guillermo Farre equalised 17 minutes into the second half. The home side had the chance to restore their advantage midway through the second half, but Pavone had his penalty superbly saved by visiting keeper Juan Olave.

River, who won the last of their 33 Argentinian titles in the the 2007/08 season, sunk into a play-off after a poor end to the Clausura campaign meant their three-season points average required them to play Belgrano in order to preserve their top-flight status they have enjoyed for the entirety of their 110-year existence. 

"We will resist, we will reformulate the club from now on," said Daniel Passarella, River Plate's president, who captained Argentina's 1978 FIFA World Cup™-winning side but who is blamed by some fans for the team's decline.

The club, named for the English version of the Rio de la Plata which divides Argentina and Uruguay, were formed in 1901 and earned their nickname in the 1930s, when their resources saw them acquire players from rival clubs for huge transfer fees.

As well as their domestic titles - the last of them in 2008 - they have won two Copa Libertadores, the Intercontinental Cup, the Supercopa Sudamericana and the Copa Interamericana. Boca and Independiente are now the only sides never to have been relegated from Argentina's Primera Division.