Ten-man Boca Juniors will feel they have been denied justice after bitter rivals River Plate beat them to the 2018 Copa Libertadores title 5-3 on aggregate, as extra-time goals from Juan Quintero and Gonzalo Martinez secured a 3-1 win in Sunday's controversial rearranged final second leg in Madrid's Santiago Bernabeu.
The match was suspended twice in November due to an attack on Boca's team bus by River supporters, but the Xeneizes' demands to be handed the title fell on deaf ears and River will return to Argentina with a fourth Libertadores crown.
The opening 45 minutes grew progressively more fiery as half-time approached, with Boca ultimately deservedly edging ahead through Dario Benedetto's brilliantly worked goal in the 44th minute.
A similarly applaudable Lucas Pratto goal levelled things after the interval to secure an extra 30 minutes, and Wilmar Barrios' sending off handed River the initiative, as Quintero gloriously put them ahead and then Martinez rounded things off in the closing stages.
For the second time in history a player from both sides has scored in the 1st and 2nd legs of a #CONMEBOLLibertadores final. The last time that happened was back in 1993 with Sanfilippo and Coutinho, from @BocaJrsOficial and @SantosFC respectively. pic.twitter.com/FimeOLUPgf— CONMEBOL Libertadores (@TheLibertadores) December 9, 2018
Boca should have taken an early lead when the ball broke kindly at a corner for captain Pablo Perez – one of those injured in the bus attack – but he shot straight at Franco Armani.
Benedetto was successful just before the break, however, skipping over Jonatan Maidana's tackle and coolly slotting past Armani to finish a devastating counter after Nahitan Nandez's sublime pass.
Out of necessity River improved after the break and they got their deserved equaliser in the 68th minute – Pratto sweeping home from the centre of the box after Ignacio Fernandez's cut-back at the end of an incisive move, ultimately forcing extra time.
Barrios was shown a second yellow card early on in the additional period for appearing to stamp on Exequiel Palacios, and River capitalised in the 109th minute – Quintero's 20-yard stunner going in off the crossbar.
Boca pushed desperately for an equaliser and hit the post with a deflected Leonardo Jara effort in the 120th minute, but from the resulting corner they were caught with everyone – including goalkeeper Esteban Andrada – in attack, and Martinez raced home on the break to score into an empty net and begin the River celebrations.
What does it mean? A Pandora's box for global football
In an era seemingly obsessed with the exporting of sporting events – such as NFL in London, pre-season tours of Asia and LaLiga trying to stage a game in Miami – the importance of this contest goes beyond the violence and on-field action. While CONMEBOL insists it will not become a habit, a Madrid-based final still sets a precedent for the rest of the world.
Pratto leads the line
As thrilling and fascinating as the game was, it was not really one for individual skill. But in a game of ferocity and bluster, Pratto was excellent as River's target man, bringing a degree of calm as he linked well with those behind him, and he also got a well-worked goal.
Andrada fails to inspire confidence
It was a poor showing from Boca's goalkeeper. He was arguably lucky to avoid conceding a penalty for a collision with Pratto, while he was then caught completely out of position for the striker's equaliser.
A trip to the United Arab Emirates and the Club World Cup now beckons for River, who will see themselves as the biggest threat to Real Madrid. As for Boca, it remains to be seen whether the club attempts to take any further action against the circumstances of the final with CONMEBOL.
20 de abril 2019
|West Ham 2 Leicester City 2: Last-gasp Barnes strike grabs dramatic draw|
|Wolves 0 Brighton and Hove Albion 0: Hughton´s men stop rot with stalemate|
|Now I am a genius – Guardiola applauds match-winner Foden|
|Bayern Munich 1 Werder Bremen 0: Fortunate Sule strike edges Kovac´s side closer|
|A-League Review: Brisbane Roar in historic humiliation at home to Newcastle Jets|
|Nerves played a part, admits Bernardo Silva|
|New captain Smith makes fifty as Royals triumph|
|Guardiola suggests De Bruyne´s season could be over after Spurs injury|
|Khan giving no thought to Brook ahead of Crawford battle|
|Lajovic reels off 10 straight games to stay perfect in Monte Carlo|
|Gattuso slams ´naive´ AC Milan after Parma draw|
|Manchester City 1 Tottenham 0: Foden nets first league goal as Spurs fail to dent champions´ title d|
|Waratahs rally to victory in Folau´s absence|
|De Bruyne suffers another injury in blow to Manchester City´s title challenge|
|Parma 1 AC Milan 1: Alves equaliser stuns Gattuso´s men|
|Van Dijk & Sterling lead PFA Player of the Year nominations|
|Ravalawa try seals Dragons win as Sea Eagles fume|
|Zidane cool on Mbappe to Real Madrid talk|
|Irving feels Celtics ´have come a long way´ after beating Pacers again|
|Westbrook a man of his word - George hails Thunder star after prickly win|
|Foden set for second league start, Spurs make five changes|
|Barty beats Azarenka to level up Fed Cup semi-final|
|Alisson thrilled at Joe Gomez´s return from injury|
|Neymar in line for PSG return versus Monaco|
|Azema signs new Clermont contract until 2023|
|Falcao: I´ve got years left at top level|
|Crawford aims to state pound-for-pound case against Khan|
|How Emery´s numbers compare to Arsenal predecessor Wenger|
|Hendricks leads Cubs to fourth straight win|
|MLS Review: Ibrahimovic, Galaxy continue fine form|
|Raptors hold off Magic, Celtics extend lead over Pacers|
|Valverde wary of ´powerful´ Liverpool|
|Raptors star Leonard played through sickness against Magic|
|Djokovic upbeat over French Open chances despite form dip|
|Zaha hints at Palace exit, eyes Champions League|
|I messed up – Miller speaks out after second failed test|
|Johnson continues good form, Lowry leads|
|DeGrom to undergo MRI for elbow ailment|
|Guardiola is world´s best coach – Valverde|
|Klopp: Liverpool still embracing pressure|
19 de abril 2019
|Medvedev masters Djokovic as Fognini fights back in style|
|Guardiola defends tactics after Man City´s Champions League exit|
|Guardiola: VAR is ´f****** boring to talk about´|
|Norwich City 2 Sheffield Wednesday 2: Late Vrancic stunner secures point for Canaries|
|Kohli hits century as Challengers survive Russell onslaught|
|Miller out of Joshua fight after second failed test, says promoter Hearn|
|Hennessey ´desperate´ to be educated about Hitler and Nazism - Hodgson|
|Spurs are amazing! – Ajax boss Ten Hag relishing Tottenham test|
|Nadal passes Pella test to remain on track in Monte Carlo|
|Championship Review: Ten-man Latics dent Leeds´ promotion push, Bolton relegated|
|Juventus goalkeeper Perin has shoulder surgery|
|We always expect something special from Messi – Valverde|
|The O-Line bond behind two Heisman Trophies - Dru Samia & Ben Powers talk protecting Baker Mayfield|
|Super Saints thrash sorry Wigan as Leeds Rhinos climb off the bottom|
|Ramsey could return in two weeks, says Emery|
|Valverde surprised by Coutinho controversy|
|Sexton, Mako Vunipola return for European Champions Cup|
|Under-strength Hurricanes survive Sunwolves scare|
|Lingard admits top-four finish would be ´massive´ for Manchester United|
|Icardi planning Inter stay - agent Wanda Nara|
|Impossible to recreate Ajax model in Serie A – Spalletti|
|Elijah Holyfield set for NFL armed with fatherly advice and Georgia grounding|
|Guardiola ´delighted´ for Ajax boss Ten Hag|
|He can be an important player for us - Gattuso leaves door open for Silva|
|Medvedev stuns Djokovic to continue dream Monte Carlo run|
|Guardiola: Referees can still make mistakes with VAR|
|Te´o to depart Worcester Warriors amid rumours of Top 14 move|
|Odriozola suffers broken collarbone|
|Sheffield United 2 Nottingham Forest 0: Duffy sends Blades second|
|I really felt for them – Klopp sympathises with Manchester City´s VAR heartbreak|