Madness and magic from Maradona’s motherland
When all was said and done – and Olé considered there was enough saying and doing to fill 39 pages of its Monday edition on the subject – the River-Boca Superclásico was what we all expected.
There was the frenetic hype, the clichés from both camps about the "six-pointer," the 1,200 police watching over proceedings, the fevered atmosphere, and then the football.
Missed penalties, golazos, red cards, pushing and shoving, late tackles, stunningly poor refereeing decisions, salvation in the form of the woodwork… and a highly unsatisfactory football match.
River thought they should have won 3-0 after the way they dominated the first half, while Boca thought that River played too conservatively after the break.
With River having taken to the pitch without a recognised centre-forward, Argie Bargy would suggest that the millionaires played the entire game too conservatively.
Perhaps 1-1 was a fair result.
"Maybe we should ask ourselves if calling it the ‘Superclásico’ isn’t over the top," reckon La Nación.
(Clarín journalist Horacio Pagani, partial as ever to an understatement, bemoaned the "lack of human sacrifice.")
Back at La Nación, the paper went on to admit that "the most interesting thing about the game was watching Palermo deal with the mask he was wearing to protect his broken nose.
"But even that lasted little time. He took it off for the second half."
Clarín pointed out that it wasn’t just Palermo who hid behind the mask in the first half, but the entire Boca side.
One thing that nobody could hide was the appalling display by Ariel Ortega, whose Crimes Against The Superclásico included:
- Missing a penalty to put River ahead - Clutching his face and rolling around on the ground, having been hit no higher than nipple-height by Boca’s Julio Cáceres, who was then sent off- Losing the ball in midfield in the build-up to Boca’s equaliser
According to River keeper Daniel Vega, the equaliser was a fluke.
"If Palermo hit the ball like he meant to, it would have come straight at me," complained Vega, who like everyone else saw Palermo’s big toenail scrape the ball with enough power to direct it just inside the post.
So it was that Palermo scored his 14th goal in a Superclásico, cancelling out Marcelo Gallardo’s brilliant first-half free kick – Muñeco’s set-piece stunner coming 15 years after scoring his first in a Superclásico.
It was an afternoon for the veterans – between them the two goalscorers brought 68 years of experience to proceedings.
While River and Boca fought it out, elsewhere there was only the league leadership to play for.
The top half of the table, with the notable exception of Boca, are separated by just four points.
This weekend’s winners were Colón, aided by San Lorenzo imploding at half-time with their right-back Pintos and centre-back Civelli punching each other on the way to the dressing room.
Only Pintos was sent off, but for good measure coach Diego Simeone was also invited to leave the pitch by the referee for his behaviour.
The men from Santa Fé duly won 2-1 to go top of the pile - a place where Boca and River fans can only dream of reaching.
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