Edging closer

Two matches now remaining, and Boca Juniors are keeping their noses just in front in the championship race. On Sunday they completed their clásico against Racing in La Bombonera – unlike Huracán against San Lorenzo in the same stadium the day before – and the result gave them another three points to once more overtake Tigre. The 2-1 win came after the challengers had taken temporary leadership of the Apertura table with a convincing 3-1 win over outgoing champions River Plate at El Monumental de Victoria.

Juan Román Riquelme was the hero for Boca against Racing, scoring a goal in each half of a match Boca deserved to win. Racing’s game plan as visitors was to trust in Maxi Moralez to make a difference, and played largely on the break. With Luciano Figueroa and Lucas Viatri continuing as Boca’s attacking duo, Racing relied largely on their opponents’ poor finishing to keep the scores level, until they began to press forward after the midpoint of the first half.

When that happened, Moralez got past Boca’s backline and, one-on-one with Héctor García, messed up the chance. Minutes later, Riquelme responded in kind, skying a left-footer over the bar after bringing it down in the box. Shortly after, though, Boca were ahead after referee Pablo Lunati spotted a foul on Figueroa in the box which few others saw (note to the cherished Boca-supporting contingent of HEGS readers: several of the match reports in the Argentine press agree with me…) and Riquelme made no mistake from 12 yards.  Racing equalised on the stroke of half time through Franco Sosa, heading in at the far post from a corner.

After the break Racing, enjoying the movement of both Maxi and Franco Zuculini, looked decidedly better, but when the crucial goal came it was for Boca – and Riquelme – again. The ball worked in from the left touchline by Jesús Dátolo, whose shot hit a defender and ballooned high into the air. The rebound bounced kindly into Riquelme’s path and, striding off his marker, the enganche rifled a powerful volley past Migliore to make it 2-1. Román finished with the man-of-the-match award, and will have enjoyed this derby win more than most: when Migliore was at Boca, the two rarely saw eye-to-eye.

In Victoria, Tigre didn’t have it all their own way but ended up with a good win over River Plate to keep the pressure on Boca going into the last two matches. After falling behind in only the second minute to a stunning Santiago Salcedo free kick, Tigre reacted superbly and were 2-1 up by the break, Carlos Luna scoring twice – the second an especially nice one – to put the Victoria side in control. In the second half River could hardly be accused, as some feared they would, of throwing the match to upset Boca’s chances, but the end result was much the same anyway.

Diego Buonanotte drew a fine save from Daniel Islas with a drive from outside the box, but substitute Cristian Bardaro put the result beyond doubt four minutes into stoppage time, racing clear to slam the ball past Daniel Vega in the visiting goal. He was subsequently sent off after picking up his second yellow card for tearing his shirt off in the celebrations, but Tigre won’t care too much for now. If this win proves enough for them to edge Boca out for the title, River might not mind enormously, either.

Elsewhere so far this weekend, Huracán’s derby with San Lorenzo in Boca’s Bombonera was called off partway through the first half due to torrential – and I do mean torrential – rain, as mentioned on the comments to this post, and will be concluded at a later date. Among other results, Banfield beat Independiente by a solitary goal in Avellaneda, the relegation clash between Gimnasia La Plata and Colón finished 1-0 to the hosts, Newell’s beat Vélez 1-0 in Rosario, and in what was far from the match of the weekend, Argentinos and Central made the fans’ eyes bleed with a horrible 0-0.

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13 thoughts on “Edging closer

  1. Vintage Roman today as I have not seen him in awhile. Some confident, well struck shots. And yes, make no mistake, he enjoyed it that much more that it came against Migliore. I agree, that was not a penalty on Lucho. I also don’t think that was a penalty on Caceres, that was not called. All in all, a deserved victory, though Racing was in the match all the way til the end.

  2. A disgraceful decision by Llop to select Migliore for this match. He was only thinking of Boca. The man thought the whole crowd went to see him and only him. He kissed EVERY single person related to Boca -and I would believe if someone tells me he even had sex with the cheerleaders in the build up for the match-.

    His performance was HORRIBLE. He never gave the defense any confidence (not that our defenders had it in the first place). Terrible decision to close in Lucho and I think it was definitely a penalty as he touched Figueroa in the left thigh with his hand.

    Not a single cross he was able to catch. Always punching the ball away or into the corner kick.

    A disgrace for Racing. A keeper that made our team and our club look tiny and non-existant.

    I watch the game at my cousin’s and her husband (a Boca fan) kept on going on and on and on against Riquelme. He scored the first one and I said: “I can’t believe you’re insulting Riquelme. I mean…how many thing did you win with him being your star player?”.

    A Boca fan at the stadium (from the expensive seats) insulted Riquelme in the second half and Roman spent a whole minute just staring at him, hands on his waist, unable to understand.

    It was as if Roman was staring at my cousin’s husband. Five minutes after that, he scores a brilliant goal and goes to face that fan and points him with his finger.

    That fan and my cousin’s husband were now both celebrating like crazy.

    I was shaking my head in disbelief. Give me a player like Roman for 10 minutes at Racing and I’ll never say a bad word in my life! (except to send Migliore to the puta madre que lo parió!).

  3. So that’s what the business was about in the second half, Seba. Thanks for enlightening me – I was watching with the sound muted (Match Of The Day was on at the same time on the TV) and was rather confused by it all.

  4. Migliore is simply not a great goalkeeper. He’s not terrible, and he might improve with experience, but right now he’s surely no better than ordinary. And in his short career, he has already made some dreadful mistakes.

  5. Seba-thanks for wearing your heart on your sleeve. That, and your smarts make you so enjoyable to read. Hey, I TOLD YOU SO, Migliore made me nuts when he was at Boca. And yes, he likes to bask in the limelight, but has never done anything to deserve the attention. He’s not smart, exercises poor judgement and is a poor goalkeeper.

    Great Riquelme yesterday and always inspiring to see him in fine form. And, I’ve changed my mind-that WAS a penalty on Lucho !

  6. There are so many truly brilliant goalkeepers in Argentina that it is really weird Migliore gets as much attention as he does. So when he was at Boca he “didn’t see eye-to-eye” with Roman. Who should care what Migliore thought? Roman is a star and already a Boca legend, while Migliore was a backup goalkeeper who basically lost the Libertadores.

  7. I´m quite confused here, why on earth are Boca fans insulting Riquelme?

    I thought he was loved by anyone associated with that club.

  8. Apparently, Justin, Riquelme had a go at Migliore when he let that goal from Fluminense in (in the match played at Racing stadium). Riquelme said something like: “Thank you. I wanted the Copa Libertadores but you screwed up”.

    Right then, Migliore went nuts and tried to punch Roman and their relationship went from bad to worse.

    That’s supposedly what happened between those two (and I believe that story!).

    Now I wasn’t even judging Migliore’s abilities on goal. There was no need for me to go there. It was his ethics and his comments before the game what really infuriated me (and every proper Racing fan should feel the same).

    He was in EVERY football talk show during the week. He said things such as: “I will not celebrate if we beat Boca, not even if I score a dramatic winner on injury time”. “My heart belongs to Boca”, etc. etc. etc.

    Go back to Boca, Migliore (if they want you!).

    Johan…regarding Boca fans insulting Riquelme…it escapes me just as much as it escapes you.

    I bet that, even if they were alive, they forget how crappy Boca were in the 80s and how Riquelme -more than any other player or manager- took them to the top of the world. Ungrateful so-called Boca fans!

  9. I prefer Gullotta in goal, but after he saved the penalty in Tucuman, I was starting to warm to Migliore, and thought that maybe by selecting him, Llop didn’t want to ruin his confidence after the ‘comedy’ goal for Colon.

    Migliore seemed to be developing some personal loyalty to Llop from his reaction after saving the pen in Tucuman.

    But after yesterday’s fiasco, I agree with Seba, time’s up for him. He is, presumably, only on loan anyway. We can’t afford any more performances like that. He reminded me of Joe Hart in the Manchester derby, when he spilled that shot from Carrick into Rooney’s path… except that Migliore was doing that *all* night.

    I didn’t see the extent of his comments about Boca before the match. All I had read was an article in Ole in which he claimed that he wanted ‘Racing to win the match, Boca to win the title’, which in itself was a strange thing to say before the game. But making continued remarks about Boca all through the week should have disqualified him from playing in this. Boca are one of Racing’s greatest rivals!

    Wayne Rooney grew up an Everton fan, yet no-one celebrates MUFC goals against Everton as much as him. Of course, this goes too far the other way for many Evertonians, but a middle course, such as Bergessio playing for SL against Racing – utterly professional, but not wishing to rub his old club’s fans’ noses in it when scoring, would have been the way to go.

    Very disappointed with the result, especially as I had been leaping out of my chair when Sosa headed the equaliser, absolutely brilliant stuff. And typical that Datolo should have a role in the winning goal. This Rule 225 or whatever it is presumably states ‘a player sent off in a match shall miss the following game unless a) he plays for Boca or River and b) the following game is to have an important affect on one of these sides chances of winning the title.’

    I think AFA and its referees are determined that it’s Boca’s turn again, but I would love it, *love it* if something similar to 2006 happened again, and, sorry Sam, I have a slight fancy for Lanus to do it still – they *will* get six points, I think, and under that pressure, I wouldn’t be at all surprised to see Boca stumble to two draws and a Christmas ‘desempate’.

    Sadly, I presume next week’s game is *not* going to be held in El Bosque, but Estudiantes’ stadium… Gimnasia *owe* Boca big time for 2005, when I was as gutted as any Gimnasia fan, them being my second favourite side.

    As for Tigre, I don’t think they’re going to get anything in Rosario, they will be depending on beating Banfield and a prayer. They looked too nervous against River in the closing stages, they were a post away from losing two points. Rusculleda looked excellent though, Seba might know more about this, didn’t he fail a work permit application to join QPR last year or something?

  10. Seba mentioned in a post that he follows QPR :-)

    Rusculleda had a trial for QPR, I believe, lol.

    Think it was work permit problems that couldn’t get him signed. Don’t get me started on that, any number of ordinary Scandinavians and Dutchmen can get signed to English clubs, but someone with vision and skill, oh no, we can’t have that in our league!

  11. I know Matthew, I was just kidding.

    The EU player regulations combined with the UK’s own (non football-specific) work permit laws make it very tricky for non-Europeans without dual nationality to find employment at British clubs. So we have the ridiculous situation of clubs who consider a player good enough to offer him a very good contract being made to bow to the opinion of people who know much less about the sport but do have a role in government.

    Of course we could follow the Italian example…

  12. Rusculleda failed a medical at QPR before the start of this season.

    That was the club’s version.

    The player’s version was that they didn’t agree on the money.

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