Like Diego Simeone at great rivals River Plate, new Boca Juniors boss Carlos Ischia started his tenure with a Torneo de Verano friendly against Independiente in Mar del Plata. Unlike Simeone’s River, there were some first-team players in Boca’s lineup: Leandro Gracián was given the playmaker’s role and Matías Silvestre was sent off late on. And like River, they took the lead. Unlike River, though, the ended up losing, and Independiente now top the table.
Germán Denis shrugged off his dog-bite last week to continue his goalscoring Apertura form, putting El Rojo ahead slap bang in the middle of the first half. Ischia may have been playing an experimental side to see how well his reserve players could do, but Pedro Troglio had wheeled out the big guns for Independiente.
As they had done against River on Saturday, Independiente looked sluggish early on, Boca’s energy putting pressure on their opponents. It was Denis who was able to make the most of the first true chance that came Independiente’s way, though, rising to head home a cross from the left to make the match 1-0. Boca continued to dominate play thereafter, the leaders having little more to show than a long-range shot from Daniel Montenegro which was comfortably saved by Pablo Migliore.
Boca’s equaliser, when it came, was almost a brilliant goal, Hugo Ibarra feeding Boselli, who combined well with Gracián to put the latter through, but then had himself to apply the finishing touch with his head after Independiente ‘keeper Fabián Assman got a touch to Gracián’s shot. 1-1 at half-time, and all to play for after the break.
At half-time, Troglio sent one of his youngsters into the fray. Remember the name: Patricio Rodríguez. The seventeen-year-old forward had made his debut against River and now came on to wreak havoc in Boca’s backline, smacking a memorable shot past Migliore, who dived in vain, from just outside the box after 63 minutes to bag what proved to be the winner.
Against a side of established first-teamers, Boca’s youngsters and reserves could hardly be viewed too harshly for succumbing 2-1, so for now the jury’s still out on whether Ischia’s the man for the job or not. A better indication will come on Saturday, when Boca take on San Lorenzo and Ischia has promised the side will be something as close as possible to how he envisages his first XI. Independiente, meanwhile, sit top of the standings – albeit they’re the only side to have played twice.