“We didn’t lose the final. They took it away from us.”
Rosario Central manager, Eduardo Coudet raged at full-time after watching his side slump to defeat in the Copa Argentina final against Boca Juniors and his ire was fully justified. Three key decisions over the 90 minutes were mistakingly given in favour of Boca by referee, Diego Ceballos and the result was that Rodolfo Arruabarrena’s newly crowned Primera División champions lifted their second title in a week. While Boca may well have been deserved league winners, this truimph left a very bitter taste in the mouths of football fans everywhere.
Having just missed out on the league title, the Copa Argentina provided Coudet’s Central side the opportunity to claim the silverware that their impressive 2015 form has warranted and on Wednesday evening in Córdoba they were more than a match for Boca. A close first-half of few chances sparked into life in the 37th minute and proved to set the tone for the rest of the evening. A Central free-kick from the right was swung in by Benfica-bound Franco Cervi and met by the head of the prolific Marco Ruben to seemingly break the deadlock. The celebrations were cut short when the linesman flagged for offside and after watching the slow-motion replay, Marcelo Larrondo may have been inches the wrong side of the defence. However, it was Ruben who headed the ball into the net and the decision to chalk it off looked harsh. Coudet certainly thought so and his protests earned him a red card, banishing him from the dugout for the remainder of the match.
Still aggrieved from the decision to disallow their opener and now without the guidance of Coudet on the sidelines, Central did not have to wait long for an even greater grievance. Seven minutes after the restart, Boca full-back Gino Peruzzi darted towards the Central penalty area and was pulled back by Paulo Ferrari. Peruzzi tumbled into the box but was clearly fouled some yards outside but Ceballos saw things differently and pointed to the spot. Nicolás Lodeiro sent Manuel García the wrong way to open the scoring and Boca celebrated the most fortuitous of leads.
Central pushed for an equaliser and came close when Marco Ruben drew an acrobatic save from Agustín Orión but they could not find way through. With minutes remaining, Boca made certain of victory but not without another dose of controversy. Marcelo Meli squared the ball to Andrés Chávez and the second half substitute tapped in Boca’s second, a narrow offside decision that the same linesman who had cancelled out Central’s first half goal failed to notice.
Javier Pinola was sent off in stoppage time for a second yellow card but it was at full-time where tempers would really flare. Eduardo Coudet made his way down to the pitch from the box where he had watched the match and angrily confronted Ceballos and his team while Boca Juniors’ staff and players celebrated wildly.
Carlos Tevez said after lifting the league title that this Boca side needed it to give them the belief and that they could now go on to win even more. Well, they have done that, but unfortunately for Argentine football, the Copa Argentina triumph raises far more questions about the competence of Diego Ceballos then it does about the potential of this Boca Juniors side.