By Alejandro Basterrechea
South America’s highest club football competition, the Copa Libertadores, was won on Sunday by Argentinian team River Plate in Madrid.
The final between arch Argentinian rivals Boca Juniors and River Plate ended 3-1 for River (aggregate 5–3) at the Bernabeu.
Boca dominated the game in the first 45 minutes, with striker Benedetto scoring the first goal just before half time.
But the second half started with Boca struggling to control the ball, and River Plate attacking hard from the right side of the pitch with midfielder Nacho Fernandez.
The Boca defense struggled to contain the wave of attacks, leading to Lucas Pratto equalizing the score at 1-1 in the 68th minute.
After that breakthrough, the game was controlled by River, particularly with the substitution of Juan Fernando Quintero defining the game as it went into extra time.
The extra 30 minutes were more of the same, with River continuing to threaten and Boca failing to attack, even after Boca’s Ramón Abila was brought on for Darío Benedetto and Fernando Gago for an exhausted Pablo Pérez.
In the 109th minute, Quintero scored off a blinding long range strike past the outstretched hands of Boca goalkeeper Esteban Andrada.
As the final minutes ticked by Boca were awarded a corner kick, and in an act of desperation Boca’s goalkeeper ran to the box to assist his team, leaving an empty net.
River cleared the corner and Quintero was able to find Pity Martinez who easily found the back of the empty net, sealing the final score of 3-1, and crowning River Plate champions of South America.
The first leg of the Copa Libertadores was played at ‘La Bombonera’ stadium in Buenos Aires on November 11th. The hard fought match finished 2 – 2, leaving no favourite for the second leg.
The second leg was postponed after a group of River fans attacked the Boca players bus while it was approaching the River stadium on the day of the game.
The incident led to the arrest of one fan who was permanently banned, and the stern condemnation of violence from managers, players, and officials alike.
The game was relocated to Madrid, Spain, as a precaution to ensure no more violence would take place.
Boca Manager, Barros Schelotto only had apologies for supporters saying after the match, “there is tremendous sadness, we are sorry we couldn’t give the title to Boca fans” after the game.