FIFA Club World Cup UAE 2018

12 December - 22 December

FIFA Club World Cup 2018

Libertadores final delicately poised after Superclásico thriller

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  • Boca Juniors and River Plate draw 2-2 in Copa Libertadores final first leg
  • Visitors River fight back twice in an open and exciting encounter
  • Second leg on 24 November, with winner qualifying for the FIFA Club World Cup

River Plate twice came from behind to claim a 2-2 draw away to Boca Juniors in a thrilling first leg of the CONMEBOL Copa Libertadores final.

This was the first time these fierce Argentinian rivals had met at this stage of South America’s premier club competition, and the high-stakes Superclásico lived up to all of its pre-match hype.

The atmosphere was predictably raucous and there was just as much to marvel at on the field, with end-to-end action, outstanding goals and chances aplenty.

River created the better of those opportunities and, in truth, might have left with a win but for wasteful finishing and some excellent goalkeeping from Agustin Rossi. The Boca Juniors No1 came to his side’s rescue several times in a dramatic first half, with a flying 16th-minute save to tip away Rafael Santos Borre’s header among his best.

But while the early signs looked gloomy for Boca, with their attacks stuttering and star man Cristian Pavon forced off with a hamstring injury, it was the under-pressure home side who snatched a 34th-minute lead. Ramon Abila was the man to break the deadlock, drilling past Franco Armani at his near post after the River keeper had parried the striker’s initial effort.

That lead lasted less than a minute, as Lucas Pratto silenced the Bombonera by racing through in the right channel and drilling an angled right-footed shot just inside the far post. But the famous Buenos Aires stadium exploded again just before half-time when Dario Benedetto, on for Pavon, flicked a brilliant opportunistic header past the helpless Armani.

River remained impressive, though, and they again restored parity just after the hour-mark when Boca defender Carlos Izquierdoz glanced into his own net under pressure from Pratto.

That leaves everything to play for in the return leg at River’s Estadio Monumental on Saturday 24 November, when we will discover which of these Buenos Aires giants will represent South America at this year’s FIFA Club World Cup.

Did you know?
Izquierdoz’s own goal was the first in a Libertadores final since Santos’ Durval scored for Penarol in the second leg of the 2011 decider. The Brazilians nonetheless went on to lift the trophy that year thanks to two goals at the right end from Neymar and Danilo.

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