Lucas Viatri had hardly had a sniff of anything in the superclásico, but popped up in the 60th minute to decide the match all the same in a manner the great Martín Palermo, looking on, would have been proud of. The goal came after Boca had been reduced to ten men through the sending-off of captain Hugo Ibarra, and the visitors hung on in the face of much frantic but clueless River attacking. River are now eight matches without a win; Boca return to winning ways after two straight defeats. A match report and a video of the goal? Oh, if you insist.
River dominated the match possession-wise and had the majority of the chances, but Boca, ultimately, were the more effective team and after Viatri took his chance brilliantly – a looping header from the edge of the penalty area after a deep free kick from Juan Román Riquelme – they managed, in the face of some furious pressure, to keep River at arm’s length.
The first half saw the match swing from half to half but not exactly end to end, with neither side managing any really decent shots inside their opponents’ penalty box. The only attempts were coming from middle- to long-distance, and the midfield battle was closely fought with Sebastián Battaglia picking up the game’s first booking midway through the half for – inevitably – fouling River’s Diego Buonanotte. A few minutes later Battaglia bodychecked Buonanotte just outside the Boca area but the referee waved play on in the face of River’s appeals.
After neither side had really imposed themselves upon the match in the first half, it took just minutes of the second for the ball to start rolling, though. Hugo Ibarra was tackled scrappily but fairly but Oscar Ahumada, and the ball ran out of play. Ibarra obviously thought it was his throw, because when the linesman flagged for a River throw the Boca captain was vocal in his opposition. He made sure to keep his hands behind his back (possibly mindful of the manner in which Independiente defender Guillermo Rodríguez was sent off against Boca last month), but referee Héctor Baldassi saw fit to show him a straight red card for his reaction, all the same.
Following the sending-off River started to exert more pressure and it seemed to be only a matter of time before resistance of Carlos Ischia’s men crumbled, but nine minutes on it was Boca who had the lead. Riquelme took a free kick from a central midfield position and Viatri, Palermo’s replacement whose suitability for the role some Boca fans have questioned, got to it first and sent a fantastic header looping into the far corner over a stranded Juan Manuel Ojeda in the River goal.
In the remaining half-hour, River pressured but couldn’t find a way through. Diego Buonanotte directed most of their truly promising moves, Radamel Falcao García ran his socks off up front and the second-half subs, Andrés Ríos and Mauro Díaz, linked up with Buonanotte nicely but their inexperience against a more mature Boca backline didn’t help the cause. River might have had a penalty in stoppage time, Falcao bringing the ball down but finding himself checked off it by Gabriel Paletta, who was nowhere near the ball whilst former River defender Julio César Cáceres stepped in to clear, but by and large it was a comfortable defensive performance from Boca in the last half hour.
River, then, remain in a dreadful position – if Central avoid defeat at home to Gimnasia La Plata this evening the champions will be rock bottom of the Apertura – and with this defeat Diego Simeone’s job is relying ever more on success in the Copa Sudamericana, in which they play Chivas in midweek. Boca are eight points behind leaders San Lorenzo after the win. It’s a big ask, but if this proves the boost their challenge needed, who knows…?
River Plate 0 – 1 Boca Juniors: Lucas Viatri, 60th min: