Quite an incredible story emerged in the Copa Libertadores this week.
Argentina’s River Plate faced Colombia’s Santa Fe amid a COVID-19 outbreak in their squad.
River had 20 players test positive, as well as several injuries.
It meant they had just 11 fit players for their match in Buenos Aires. Unfortunately, none of those 11 were goalkeepers with all four affected by either COVID or injury.
The South American Football Confederation (CONMEBOL) rejected River’s request to register their fifth and sixth-choice goalkeepers for the match.
It meant that midfielder Enzo Perez had to play in goal, despite struggling with a hamstring injury.
Surely Santa Fe would seal a comfortable victory in the Copa Libertadores clash – South American equivalent of Europe’s Champions League…
However, remarkably, River were 2-0 up inside six minutes.
Fabrizio Angileri scored after three minutes, with Julian Alvarez doubling their lead three minutes later.
As for Perez, he didn’t have a great deal to do but whatever he did do, he did it admirably. Okay, he didn’t look too convincing with crosses into the box but he certainly surprised many football fans with his display.
Unfortunately, his clean sheet was ruined by Kelvin Osorio but River and Perez held on to secure a famous 2-1 victory.
The stand-in goalkeeper also picked up the Man of the Match award for his troubles and you can check out his highlights below:
After the match, Perez spoke of the amazing attitude shown by the entire team: “Talking about how the game was does not make much sense, for all that we live these days, unfortunately, we suffered with Covid,” he said.
“I emphasise the heart, the manhood and the personality. Not only from the boys who played today, but also from what we showed on Sunday at Boca stadium. There, several boys also debuted, who helped us to make a good game. We show again the group that we are and the people that we are.
“The team’s goalkeepers sent me messages, I asked a few questions. The goalkeeper coach also gave me advice, yesterday we trained a little. He told me to always focus on the penalty spot and, when the ball went to the side, always walk diagonally.
“I tried to focus on helping the team, but there will certainly be a lot of talk about this game.”
A really incredible story.
Quiz: Can you name the missing player from these famous line-ups?