Superclásico: Boca beats River 3-2, will face Estudiantes in the semis

With goals by Cavani and Merentiel, the Xeneize won in the latest chapter of Argentina’s most heated football rivalry

Boca Juniors beat Superclásico rivals River Plate 3-2 on Sunday and made it to the Copa de la Liga semifinals. The team coached by Diego Martínez will now face Estudiantes for a spot in the final.

Boca took control of the game early on, with more possession of the ball as the team sought to build up play from behind. However, a misplaced pass by Boca midfielder Kevin Zenón gave River wonderkid Claudio Echeverri the chance to counterattack, with time and space to assist tournament-leading goal scorer Miguel Borja for the 1-0.

The goal did little to change the game, with Boca very much in control of the ball but vulnerable to River’s counter. However, mistakes during the build-up and misplaced passes didn’t allow the Xeneize to create many clear goal-scoring opportunities. That was until the 45th minute when Luis Advícula dribbled the ball past River’s defense and put a cross for striker Miguel Merentiel to score from inside the box for the first half to end 1-1

The second half began with a flare-up between Boca’s Marcos Rojo and Borja — both got a yellow card. In the 5th minute, a River free kick resulted in a headed clearance by Boca midfielder Guillermo Fernández bouncing off teammate Cristian Lema. The ball nearly crossed the line and VAR had to intervene to disallow the goal, which had been given.

It would be Boca who took the lead in the second half, when in the 62nd minute Zenón recovered the ball high up the pitch and put a cross for Uruguayan superstar Edinson Cavani, who headed the 2-1 in.

With River forced to push for a result, it was Boca who went into counter attack. The Xeneize found the perfect opportunity just five minutes later as Merentiel recovered the ball at the middle of the pitch and dribbled with the ball forward. He assisted Cavani, who had his shot saved by River goalkeeper Franco Armani, only for Merentiel to score on the rebound for 3-1.

An increasingly desperate River kept pushing and eventually forced a mistake by Boca goalkeeper Sergio Romero, with Paulo Díaz making it 3-2 in the 52nd minute in added time. However, it proved too little too late as the referee Yael Falcón Pérez blew for full time right after kick-off.

Boca will now face Estudiantes in the semifinals next weekend, at a time and place yet to be confirmed.

Penalties and red cards in Copa de la Liga drama

Elsewhere, there was plenty of drama in the Copa de la Liga, with three games played on Saturday.

The first team to make it into the semifinals was Argentinos Juniors, who beat Defensa y Justicia on penalties. Losing for most of the game, the Bichos Colorados only managed to score a tying goal in the 85th minute, sending the game to a penalty shoot-out. However, the drama was only beginning as a total of 12 shots were required to split the two teams, with seven missed until Argentinos goalkeeper Diego Rodríguez scored the last shot to seal the win.

It will face Vélez Sarsfield, who came back from behind against Godoy Cruz to win 2-1. The match was a tense affair, with Fortín defender Elías Gómez sent off following VAR reviewed his foul on Lucas Arce. Gustavo Quinteros’ side fought back to take the lead with 10 men, and were denied a third after another VAR review confirmed Godoy Cruz’s Franco Petroli red card as he handed the ball before what would’ve been a Vélez result-clinching goal.

Earlier on Saturday, Estudiantes de La Plata handily defeated Barracas Central 3-0, with goals by Guido Carrillo twice and Javier Correa.


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