Left field

The Reuters global sports blog

Boca put River in their place

January 27, 2012

By Rex Gowar

The result of the year’s first “superclasico” was logical with first division champions Boca Juniors beating second-division River Plate 2-0.

But Wednesday night’s friendly – an unprecedented clash with one of the two giants of the Argentine game in the second tier — was also something of an anti-climax after the massive build.

Argentina’s biggest soccer rivalry, whether they are playing an off-season warm-up as in this case or a decisive Libertadores Cup clash or anything in between, puts all others in the shade.

It was played in the steamy northern city of Resistencia in the sub-tropical Chaco province with massive police control to keep the hard-core element among their fans, bitter enemies, to their word that there would be no trouble.

As it happened, one of River’s senior players, former Russia-based midfielder Alejandro Dominguez, could have sparked trouble with his insulting gestures to Boca fans as he eventually and reluctantly trudged off following a red card.

“Chori” Dominguez, who should have known better, lost his self control and reacted badly to a booking, clamouring about Boca fouls and accusing the referee of bias which earned him the dismissal.

Having left his team a man short with at least an hour still to play and down 1-0 already, he later apologised saying: “I feel responsible for this, I made a mistake. With my dismissal it was hard for the team.”

Young striker Nicolas Blandi, looking to cement a place in the Boca side as the iconic Martin Palermo’s successor in the number nine shirt, scored both the goals, heading the first in the fifth minute from a cross by Pablo Mouche who appeared to be half a metre offside when he took a pass on the right wing.

Boca were the more solid team exhibiting the virtues of their comfortable Apertura championship win in the first half of the season when they went unbeaten in the 19 matches and conceded only six goals, finishing 12 points clear of their closest challengers.

River, since their humiliating relegation in June, have attempted to recapture the attacking football they are famous for but have struggled to cling to second place and potential promotion back into Primera A.

They meet tough Nacional B division teams week in, week out, all facing them as if it were the World Cup final and they are only halfway through the season-long championship that resumes on the first weekend of February.

River did more of the attacking on Wednesday night, and brought on David Trezeguet during the second half but his first superclasico with the club he has supported since childhood was a bitter disappointment for the former France striker as Boca held control and did not allow him the slightest whiff of a chance.

As was expected, a Boca win produced a stream of banners, graffiti, text and email messages, chants and insults ridiculing the arch-enemy for their relegation.

“You are like the Costa Concordia, you were sunk by your ‘great captain’,” said one referring to River president and former skipper Daniel Passarella.

The rivals meet again in another friendly on Sunday. The first division Clausura championship kicks off on Feb. 10.

Picture: Boca Juniors’ Leandro Somoza (C) and teammates celebrate with the trophy at the end of their Argentine First Division soccer match against Banfield in Buenos Aires, December 4, 2011. Boca Juniors won the Argentine league title with two matches to spare when they beat Banfield 3-0. REUTERS/Marcos Brindicci

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