After last week’s 2-0 loss in Santiago, Boca hosted the Chilean champions with at least one psychological advantage – earlier in the week Colo Colo’s Argentine manager, Claudio Borghi, announced to general surprise that due to a falling out with the board, he’d be resigning his charge of the first team after this match. The visiting players, eager to show they were on his side in the dispute, arrived at La Bombonera determined to get a result which would leave the defending champions of the Copa on the verge of elimination.
One thing the fans at La Bombonera certainly got was an entertaining match. Boca’s motivation was evened out by their defensive ineptitude, whilst Colo Colo’s relative lack of ideas was made up for by some peculiar refereeing. The first and most visible instance of the latter came after 22 minutes, when a fairly ordinary first half – Boca’s best chance had been a Martín Palermo header, that’s how ordinary – sprung to life when the referee showed Boca full back Luciano Monzón a red card for bundling an opponent to the floor roughly.
Two minutes later, with their first counter against Boca’s now unbalanced back line, Colo Colo were ahead, Gustavo Bizcayzacu finishing low under Mauricio Caranta after finding himself alone in the area. And just minutes after that, the scored were level again as Martín Palermo – who’d missed a penalty just a minute previously – made up for his error with a powerful header to make it 1-1. Before half-time, though, Colo Colo led again, once more through Bizczyzacu, who stabbed home Arturo Sanhueza’s ball from a possibly offside position to leave Boca to sweat on their position when the break arrived.
Boca’s response, predictably, was to come out after the interval fired up, and they were back level just four minutes into the second period after Leandro Gracián continued a good run of scoring from his position behind the strikers. It was just over fifteen minutes before Rodrigo Palacio put to rights a horrific first-half miss by giving Boca the lead for the first time in the match, 65 minutes in. Colo Colo’s pressure thereafter caused some nervous moments as ten-man Boca began to feel the effects of being a man down for about 70 minutes, but finally, from a corner, Neri Cardozo put the result beyond doubt with two minutes left on the clock to relax the home fans.
Well, it looked beyond doubt at that point, anyway. In the 92nd minute Colo Colo struck back through Rodolfo Moya to gain some slim hope, but with only around a minute of stoppage time left, it really was all over by the time the game restarted. Boca won a thrillingly entertaining match to move level on points with Atlas at the top of Group 3, but it’s still complicated – they visit Atlas in Guadalajara in a couple of weeks, finish against Maracaibo, who they drew with in the first match of the group stage – and are only a point ahead of Colo Colo. Not plain sailing for the champions, but after this game they’ll just be thankful they’ve still got their fate in their own hands.
Check back here tomorrow for the goals.