River had no contact with banned Gallardo, claims Pinola
Javier Pinola denied River Plate had any communication with banned coach Marcelo Gallardo during their dramatic Copa Libertadores semi-final victory over Gremio.
Gallardo was suspended from the second leg by CONMEBOL for his conduct during the opening encounter in Buenos Aires but was pictured in the stands at Arena do Gremio allegedly using a walkie talkie to converse with assistant Matias Biscay on the touchline.
Footage purportedly showing the head coach leaving the River dressing room after half-time also emerged, which could also lead to a further sanction.
However, Pinola claimed the players had no contact with Gallardo after they came from behind to complete an incredible 2-1 victory and advance to the final on away goals.
"There was not any communication with [Gallardo]. I was focused on the game and I didn't have any device at hand to get in touch with anybody," said defender Pinola.
"Maybe he was calling home because he's got a family and maybe they were happy with the game too."
Leo Gomes extended 2017 champions Gremio's aggregate advantage to 2-0 in the first half, before Rafael Santos Borre equalised and Gonzalo Martinez scored a penalty after Bressan was shown a second yellow card for handball following a video review by referee Andres Cunha, who had to be protected by riot police after the final whistle.
The spot-kick was not taken until almost 10 minutes after the incident due to Gremio's protests, with River holding on through 14 minutes of stoppage time.
"We totally deserved this. We utterly respect the current champion, but we were convinced about what to do in this game, we kept believing in our football, we knew this game was going to be played like the previous one," said Pinola.
"Our coach planned everything as he should, looking to exploit their weaknesses. We earned this because the champion was cautious about us on both legs and that means a lot."