Boca took a while to finally stamp their authority on their Mexican visitors, only getting the goal that finally killed the game off with nine minutes left, but all the same, the defending champions played their first home match of this year’s campaign, and got their first win to partly expunge the bad memories of the draw in Venezuela a couple of weeks ago. Rodrigo Palacio scored twice, and Martín Palermo added one late on. To read about the match and watch the goals, step this way…
In truth, Boca didn’t impress with their performance, but they did have the quality which marked them out in last year’s victorious run to the trophy: clinical finishing. They lacked precision further down the pitch, though, and Juan Román Riquelme in particular was notable for his subdued performance, whilst Miguel Brindisi’s visitors, in contrast, were full of life and fought for every ball.
On 32 minutes, though, it was the hosts who took the lead, and steadied their nerves a little. Left back Claudio Morel Rodríguez cut back and crossed the ball in the general direction of Rodrigo Palacio, who cut an almost apologetic volley in past a despairing Jorge Bava in the Atlas goal. Shortly after, Boca seemed to wake up and created more chances, Riquelme going close with a left footed drive, and Bava getting the better of Palacio in a one-on-one. Bava should, in fact, have been sent off for his ‘save’, as he ploughed into the Boca striker, but the referee didn’t see the challenge and the Atlas ‘keeper got away with it.
The second half saw Boca start more brightly but Atlas, encouraged by good goalkeeping from Bava, came into it later and forced some action out of Boca goalie Mauricio Caranta, playing in spite of rumours he’d be unfit in the days before the match. As things started to look nervy, entering the last ten minutes, Palacio struck again, running onto a through ball and stabbing past Bava to put the outcome finally beyond doubt. Two minutes later, substitute Jesús Dátolo sent in a cross from the left which Martín Palermo met with a well-placed header at the far post for his 181st goal in Boca’s colours.
That was it, apart from a straight red given to visiting defender Néstor Vidrio for an overenthusiastic challenge on Morel Rodríguez. Following the win, Boca now sit top of Group 3 with four points, whilst Colo Colo and Atlas have three each and Maracaibo are stuck on one.
Boca Juniors 3 – 0 Atlas