The Club World Cup has its first finalist, after Boca Juniors saw off African champions Etoile Sahel with a performance that was more convinving than the 1-0 final score suggested. Etoile looked like cause for concern before the match, having unexpectedly dumped North American champs, Mexican club Pachuca, out in the previous round, but Neri Cardozo’s strike was enough to see them off.
Boca’s new tactical scheme worked well enough, with Ever Banega wearing the playmaking duties well and Morel Rodríguez and Hugo Ibarra providing plenty of attacking width from their full-back positions. There were some moments of defensive uncertainty which could have cost Boca dear, but when they had the ball in their possession, it was used well and they kept their patience, even when Etoile looked like frustrating their more illustrious opponents’ attacking intentions.
Playing well within themselves, Boca had a couple of chances in the early stages, before Cardozo broke the deadlock in the 36th minute, taking down a pull-back from Rodrigo Palacio and stroking it high into the net. In the second half, Boca settled back to play on the counter, with the Moroccans not threatening massively, but Fabián Vargas was sent off for a second bookable offence in the 65th minute, forcing Boca to defend their lead with a man down.
Boca, then, are the competition’s first finalists, and await the winners of the Milan vs. Urawa Red Diamonds semi-final tomorrow. Should Milan triumph as expected, Sunday’s final will be a rematch of the 1994 showdown. For now, though, Boca are free to concentrate on it unreservedly, having negotiated the first hurdle.
For highlights of the match from FIFA’s official site, click here.
Photo pinched from elgrafico.com