Madness and magic from Maradona’s motherland
There were fireworks, enough ticker to cover parading liberators of all the wars put together and odd bombs that spurted blue and gold smoke. It was the closing season's superclasicó and it was the home team Boca Juniors who earned the glory.
Sure, it was a scrappy game, as most derbies are. But then again, as in all derbies, this was a fight for the fans. And Boca Juniors' slick fans unveiled a brand new flag, 15 storeys high, for the occasion.
Boca's banner: at least they didn't hold it upside down
Fortunately they had plenty of opportunities to unfurl and shake it like a Polaroid as they celebrated their first win for three years over their uptown rivals. Although nether team were convincing, Boca created more chances but generally failed to capitalise – a problem for them of late. It was a sublime header from Sebastian Battaglia in the 14th minute that set the tone, and then Boca hung on for dear life. Not that River were particularly threatening: Ariel Ortega was subbed early in the second half, and Diego Simeone's side looked lacklustre - much to their manager's disgust. And as he walked off, some witty Boca (or River) fan threw him a rubber ring.
It means Simeone has a tricky week ahead. After a loss against San Lorenzo in a heated Copa Libertadores first leg last week, River need a win on Wednesday to make the quarters. Their league prospects are also dubious, but as with the English Premier League it looks as though it will be down to the wire. Estudiantes lead, but both River and San Lorenzo have the same amount of points, 27; fourth-placed Boca are a point behind, while Veléz and Independiente have 24 and 23 respectively.
Off the field, the superclasicó passed off relatively peacefully, with only 253 arrests (yes, that's low), including 69 from River faction Banda del Oeste, who are largely blamed for the recent violence on the terraces. But apart from a few scuffles wherein Boca supporters mugged River fans for flags and shirts then burnt them, it was a security success, especially amid the most violent season for years.
At the other end of the table, Racing played Rosario Central looking to escape the relegation zone. But Rosario won 3-2, leaving Racing in their worst situation for a decade and a real possibility of going down – a huge blow for one of Argentina's most supported teams.
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