BUENOS AIRES: River Plate conceded two goals in the final nine minutes to fall 2-0 to San Jose in their Libertadores Cup clash in the Bolivian Andes on Thursday.
Twice South American champions River left no stone unturned in preparing for the match, the club’s first in the competition for six years, nearly 4,000 metres above sea level in the mining town of Oruro.
The players had pressure chamber sessions in Buenos Aires and took aspirins, caffeine and Sildenafil, commonly known as the impotence treatment drug Viagra, before the match to combat the low oxygen levels.
“You take Viagra because it stimulates the circulation of oxygen through the blood and helps you breathe better,” River’s team doctor Pedro Hansing told Argentina’s America radio station.
Striker Angel Orue scored in the 81st minute and substitute Juan Valverde increased the home side’s lead from a free kick in the 88th.
Disappointed River coach Marcelo Gallardo said: “Their substitutions gave them more speed, we kept our cruise speed which is the only way to handle playing at altitude.
“The altitude is no myth, playing at altitude is complicated and we’re not used to it, but I’m satisfied with the lads’ commitment,” he told reporters.
River, holders of the Copa Sudamericana which is South America’s equivalent to the Europa League, are at home to San Jose in Buenos Aires in their next group match in two weeks.
Argentine holders San Lorenzo scored two goals in the final five minutes as they came from behind to beat Uruguay’s Danubio 2-1 in Montevideo in their Group Two opener.