Independiente’s wait continues

Inseperable in La Bombonera

Independiente haven’t won in La Bombonera for twelve years, and that run continued on Sunday afternoon in the latest clásico of the weekend. In a lively match, they took the lead early on and saw Boca reduced to ten men shortly before the break, but had to settle for a point after a fine equaliser from Juan Román Riquelme early in the second half.

Independiente started very offensively, setting out their stall early on with Freddy Grisales operating slightly deeper than Germán Denis and Daniel Montenegro. Boca, all the same, had two good chances in the opening exchanges, which Mauro Boselli wasted. Two former River Plate players had a hand in Independiente’s goal shortly after, with Daniel Montenegro taking the ball in Boca’s half and sending it out to the right wing, from where Mariano Herrón sent in a cross which Montenegro’s one-time team-mate at the Monumental, Julio César Cáceres, turned into his net ahead of Germán Denis.

That was six minutes in, and in the next ten, all of Independiente’s front three – Montenegro, Denis and Grisales – had chances to put El Rojo further ahead, but couldn’t. At the other end, meanwhile, Juan Román Riquelme was being frozen out by the visitors’ midfield as Boca struggled to come into it.

Eventually, though, Riquelme did start to exert himself, beginning with a tremendous free kick that Independiente goalkeeper Fabián Assman just punched wherever he could to keep it out, and Boca began to dominate. Sebastián Battaglia sent a shot high into the stands, Riquelme hit the post, and Independiente were a little fortunate, in the end, to go back to the changing rooms with the lead. As it was, though, they got the lead and were a man up as well, Gabriel Paletta seeing red for going in two-footed, from behind on Grisales.

In the second half, predictably, Boca came out roaring in spite of being a man down, and Jesús Dátolo and Rodrigo Palacio had both missed before Riquelme got the equaliser in the 54th minute. Boselli, back to goal, cut it back for the playmaker, who powered it past Assman.

For the next thirty-five minutes, Independiente exerted the pressure, with a player over on Boca, who became more and more tired as the match went on but simply refused to concede too much space or another goal to the visitors. Independiente at times didn’t seem sure whether to throw everything at Boca or leave men back to make sure they didn’t get caught on the counter, and late on Boca might have won it after this uncertainty led to a good opportunity for Rodrigo Palacio, who picked his spot and missed.

With this draw, Boca fail to join Vélez at the top, but maintain their long run without home defeat against Independiente. El Rojo, meanwhile, are eighth.

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