Madness and magic from Maradona’s motherland
RESULTS: Estudiantes 3-1 Tigre, Lanús 3-0 Colón, Huracán 0-2 San Lorenzo, Atlético Tucumán 2-1 Chacarita, Independiente 1-2 Banfield, Newell’s 2-2 Central, Boca 4-0 Gimnasia, Godoy Cruz 1-1 River
A total of 2,250 police officers, ‘peace’ agreements between the two sets of fans, numerous checkpoints, reduced number of tickets… but still it happened.
On the evidence of this weekend, there is nothing that can prevent violence at clásicos.
There were two local derbies, and, as expected, there was trouble at both.
In Rosario, Central made the short trip across town to take on Newell’s.
The Guerreros were given just 3,500 tickets to reduce the number of away fans and make some semblance of ‘an effort’ to prevent trouble.
Some of the less cerebral Central fans saw this as no obstacle to getting into the Newell’s ground, the Colosso.
They just photocopied their mate’s ticket and showed up at the stadium.
Those Central fans with slightly better false tickets did manage to get into the stadium.
Those that didn’t kicked up a fuss, and were kicked in by the police. Batons thrashed through the air; rubber bullets and tear gas followed.
Around 20 fans were hospitalised, and once the police had had their fill, 50 were arrested.
The derby kicked off 20 minutes late, although the delay had nothing to do with what was going on outside.
Inside, several Central fans climbed to the top of the wire fencing separating the stand from the pitch, and to prove their masculinity even more, clutched the barbed wire for balance.
The problem with them being there was that just two metres in front of them was where the Newell’s keeper Sebastian Peratta was about to take his position in goal.
The ‘fans’ weren’t exactly there to get a better view or wish him good luck.
After the Central captain Jorge Broun pleaded with them (and the fire brigade threatened to hose them down) the macho men climbed down and the match got going.
As a spectacle and a game, it lasted half an hour.
Two attacks in 11 minutes brought an early 2-0 lead for Central, but Newell’s were soon back on level terms through their front pair Boghossian and Achucarro.
So it was 2-2 with less than half an hour played, but so it ended.
Neither team were willing to take the initiative in the remaining 63 minutes, although the draw probably prevented more problems after the game.
The Central fans, meanwhile, decided the first half was a golden opportunity not to be passed up: Newell’s keeper Peratta was right in front of them.
First they threw sunglasses at him. He put them on, defusing the tense atmosphere for a split second.
Then they threw a mobile phone at him. He didn’t have time to answer, as the match referee picked it up.
Then, with 39 minutes on the clock, they threw a knife at him.
Now, it was hardly a machete - it was probably the knife of choice when you are going to cut a lemon. But still. They threw a knife at him.
While we all wondered just how on earth a sharp-edged utensil made it past the police checkpoints at the stadium, or which imbecile believed it to be a good idea to throw a knife at a footballer, Newell’s were starting to wonder how long their stadium will be closed for after the incidents.
If the day before was anything to go by, it was the least they should expect.
After problems at Saturday’s clásico between Huracán and San Lorenzo, the Tomás Ducó has been provisionally closed by the authorities.
Both sets of fans had agreed not to provoke the other set of fans with inflammatory gestures, songs or flags.
But Huracán decided that the agreement wasn’t binding, unfurling a huge San Lorenzo flag minutes ahead of kick-off.
The Ciclón’s supporters weren’t happy, and a full-scale riot kicked off between angry San Lorenzo fans and the police.
Officially, two fans were injured and 19 officers were hurt, but "injured" and "hurt" are loose terms when an entire stadium is engulfed in tear gas.
Match commentators could hardly speak, the players and coaching staff sprinted for the dressing rooms and fans made for the exits as the police liberally shot tear-gas canisters into the stands.
They had come prepared. And deep down, everyone knew there would be trouble at these games.
Even so, it still seems that nobody is capable of preventing it. Perhaps ‘capable’ should be replaced by ‘willing’.
See the weekend’s goals here or watch the weekend’s best five here.
Worth the click for Darío Gandín’s ridiculous lob against Banfield.
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Not, however, worth the click for the accompanying music, "Santa Maradona."
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