A poor Copa Libertadores for Argentine clubs didn’t get an awful lot better on Thursday night. Boca Juniors claimed two away goals and were ahead for most of the second half thanks to their Palacio & Palermo strikeforce. Missing Juan Román Riquelme through injury though, they failed to finish their hosts off in the second half, and with seven minutes left Defensor got an equaliser, and some sort of lifeline going into next week’s return leg in La Bombonera.
Martín Palermo gave Boca the lead only three minutes in, but Defensor could have already been ahead by that point, had Diego Vera not fluffed his lines in front of goal just fifteen seconds in. Palermo wasn’t so forgiving, finishing with a strong left-footer which went in off the post. Most of the rest of the first half was played with the feeling of a friendly match, Boca’s full backs showing some reluctance to get forward and Palermo and Rodrigo Palacio, finding themselves isolated up front.
Defensor attacked without much imagination but with plenty of the determination their country’s football is known for, but in the face of Boca’s defence and midfield sitting so close to their own penalty box, had to feed off what scraps came their way, mostly by means of dead balls. A couple went close before, on the stroke of half time, Pablo Gaglianone got to a free kick ahead of Roberto Abbondanzieri and scrambled it over the line to equalise.
After the break Defensor started the second half as they had done the first; by missing a good chance to take the lead. Claudio Morel Rodríguez cleared off the line after Defensor’s Argentine midfielder Julio Marchant – a former Boca player, and later of Racing and Unión de Santa Fe – had seen a shot pushed away by Abbondanzieri.
Eleven minutes after the restart, Palacio put Boca back into the lead, finishing as the goalkeeper came off his line to collect the ball, and the scare appeared to be over. Nicolás Gaitán, replacing Riquelme, who’d felt a twinge in training earlier in the day, enjoyed more space as Defensor fell to pieces, but Boca couldn’t press home the advantage. With minutes left, though, from a quickly-taken throw, La Violeta squared it up again, Vera popping up unmarked to head home, after escaping the attentions of Juan Krupoviesa, who’d been introduced for Gaitán as Carlos Ischia tried to close out the game.
Boca take an away goals advantage back to La Bombonera next Thursday, then, and surely that will prove enough. Defensor showed some spirit but not too many ideas tonight, and in front of their owns fans Boca are sure to be a different proposition.
The goals from this match aren’t online as I type this, but they, along with any from the second leg of the Estudiantes tie (they’re 0-0 at half time away to Libertad at the moment, having won the first leg 3-0), will be on HEGS on Friday night.