Just like old times

Román gets to grips with the opposition

The highlight of Boca vs. San Lorenzo on Saturday night was a classic from the scrapbook: a free kick taken from a collection of Juan Román Riquelme’s finest, on the day the world’s finest playmaker returned to his boyhood club. One small difference, though: it was Claudio Morel Rodríguez, not Riquelme, who placed the ball and before striking Boca’s equaliser.

Both managers put out something approaching their strongest team, with Riquelme’s comeback also marking a Boca debut for Lucas Castromán, and Diego Placente’s first match for San Lorenzo. And in the first half, it was Boca who dominated both ball and play, perhaps predictably – if both sides are going to play possession football, the one featuring Riquelme will do it better more often than not.

Riquelme was easily giving Juan Manuel Torres the runaround in the first half, but when Santiago Hirsig felt a twinge after twenty minutes, the resulting tactical change gave San Lorenzo the impetus they needed. Boca still had the better chances, Neri Cardozo sending in a dangerous shot from outside the box, and Martín Palermo not quite chasing down a rebound after Cuervo ‘keeper Agustín Orión had pushed away a shot of Riquelme’s. Juan Carlos Menseguez and Andrés Silvera, meanwhile, were looking dangerous at the other end and starting to cause Boca’s backline some problems.

Nineteen minutes into the second half, San Lorenzo took the lead, Paraguayan Aureliano Torres sending in a stinging left-footer that Pablo Migliore had no answer to. San Lorenzo suddenly looked stronger, and set out to try and extend the lead further. It wasn’t to be, though. Twelve minutes after San Lorenzo’s goal, a free kick which Morel Rodríguez took flew on a Riquelme-like trajectory, then cannoned back off the crossbar, hit Orión on the back, and bounced into the net – Boca had their equaliser.

Following that, both sides seemed to settle for the draw, but the business had been done: both coaches put their best sides out, and for a summer match, it wasn’t a bad one to watch, overall.

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