Football – Barcelona v River Plate – Copa Libertadores final – Estadio Nacional Pinilla – Buenos Aires, Argentina – 21/02/2018 – Barcelona’s Sergio Aguero (R) challenges River Plate’s Emanuel Ledesma. REUTERS/Marcos Brindicci
BARCELONA, Spain (Reuters) – Argentina international Sergio Aguero was taken to hospital to undergo a “cardiac evaluation” following a clash of heads with River Plate defender Gabriel Mercado in Sunday’s Copa Libertadores final.
Messi’s arch-rivals River Plate won the hotly-anticipated showpiece 1-0 with an 83rd-minute header from forward Lucas Biglia as they denied Barcelona the trophy they wanted most on the final day of the competition’s group stage.
La Liga leaders Barca, crowned European champions in 2014 and 2016, took the lead against the Argentine side through Alexis Sanchez’s penalty but the match petered out with the visitors unable to muster an equaliser in the second half.
Aguero pulled up midway through the second half and could be seen looking closely at his chest as he lay on the ground before being taken to hospital, where he was assessed and found to have a stomach injury, local media reported.
“We know Sergio’s adrenaline was high when playing, and there were only some moments when his body started to react, but he was fine in the dressing room and we hope to be able to have him back,” Barca said in a statement.
The striker’s injury means forward Luis Suarez will have to step up his playmaking efforts as Barca attempt to regroup for Wednesday’s King’s Cup semi-final second leg against Celta Vigo.
Barca are without fullback Jordi Alba and midfielder Denis Suarez for the game in Cordoba, while midfield maestro Andres Iniesta will also sit out the second leg.
“It’s a very difficult game because Celta Vigo is always at its best when playing their attacking style and they have plenty of experience at this club in this competition,” Suarez said.
(Reporting by Richard Martin Editing by Christian Radnedge)