Boca take the Recopa

Palacio makes it 1-0 early on
Palacio makes it 1-0 early on

Martín Palermo’s out for a while, but Boca Juniors provided themselves with a morale boost in the wake of a traumatic few days following their hero’s injury. After Palermo’s record-equalling goal set them on their way to a first-leg victory in Sarandí, it was back to La Bombonera for the second leg of the Recopa Sudamericana, and despite Arsenal scaring them in the second half and threatening to take the tie to penalties, another club favourite – Juan Román Riquelme – gave his public a return worthy of an Olympic gold medallist, whacking in a majestic free kick for a 2-2 draw, and a 5-3 aggregate victory.

Boca raced into the lead, and it was Palermo’s replacement, youngster Lucas Viatri, who combined with Rodrigo Palacio, cutting down the channel and pulling the ball back to the centre for Palacio to score. Boca led 4-1 on aggregate, Arsenal were more obliged than ever to come out, and the match opened out. In spite of the visitors’ best efforts, though, Boca were controlling things on home soil and, having kept the threat from Arsenal at arm’s length, went to the dressing room with the same advantage at half time.

In the second half Arsenal missed Luciano Leguizamón, who didn’t return to the pitch having picked up a knock during the first half, and they continued to be pegged back by the hosts in the early part of the second period. Then, all of a sudden, shortly before the hour mark, things changed. After Riquelme had hit the crossbar after a near length-of-the-pitch run, Arsenal countered and Sebastián Carrera took advantage of a poorly judged charge from Boca’s goal by Mauricio Caranta, levelling things up on the night and giving Arsenal hope, however slim, of taking it to penalties.

The goal revitalised Arsenal, Mauricio Matos going close in the very next attack and missing another minutes after, but he made no mistake the third time. After Riquelme had again passed up a scoring opportunity – electing to go for power with a free kick after Carlos Báez had brought him down (the Arsenal centre back seeing red for his troubles) and hitting the wall – goalscorer Carrera turned provider and his cross was headed in by Matos. 2-1 to Arsenal, and at 4-3 on the night another goal for the visitors would have taken the tie to penalties.

Boca were on the ropes, with Riquelme fading fast from the match as the fatigue of the journey back from Beijing perhaps began to take its toll. Caranta saved from Javier Yacuzzi as Arsenal continued to pressure, but late on things began to unravel at last, and played into Boca’s hands. Ten minutes before the end, Christian Díaz picked up a second yellow card to reduce the visitors to nine men, following a foul on Viatri. Thereafter, the result ceased to be in doubt, and, even with Boca getting back into control, the coup de grace arrived from a set piece. With a little help from Arsenal ‘keeper Cristian Campestrini, Riquelme netted the equaliser on the night to give Boca a 5-3 win on aggregate, and their 18th international trophy – they draw back level with A.C. Milan in the international roll of honour.

Check back later on Thursday for the goal video.

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3 thoughts on “Boca take the Recopa

  1. Kind of an anti climactic win in some ways but Arsenal made it nervy late. Viatri failed to impress me, even with that nice cross for the Palacio goal. Other than that he was nearly invisible. I read this morning that Boca is making inquiries both in Europe and South America in their attempt to land a replacement for Palermo. I don’t think Viatri is going to be the man.

  2. Hi njq-just guessing here, but I would bet that Ischia would rather bring Noir off the bench as a second half replacement for Palacio. If he starts Noir he has no speedy, dangerous substitute, other than maybe Neri Cardozo or Chavez. Plus, the team is set up offensively to go through a traditional #9. With Boca’s money they ought to be able to find somebody alot better than Viatri. I’d like to see Noir get time as well and I am sure he will, but in spots.

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