Villarreal flew into Buenos Aires to provide unfamiliar preseason opposition for Boca Juniors on Wednesday and while before kick off the two clubs celebrated Juan Román Riquelme and all those to have have played in both shirts, by full time La Bombonera was applauding an impressive win, excited by the early signs of a Edwin Cardona-Fernando Gago double-act.
The Colombian Cardona, gave a second half cameo in the friendly with Nacional at the weekend but started on Wednesday and in just a few perfectly weighted passes and a slick nutmeg brought supporters to their feet. However, it was Fernando Gago, who perhaps best demonstrated his quality in a display of complete midfield control.
After both sides had fashioned chances during the first half, the only goal of the game came in the 53rd minute thanks to a passage of utterly brilliant passing that began with Boca goalkeeper Agustin Rossi. After working the ball forward with Gago at the centre, it eventually found a way back to the former Argentina international and a swift give-and-go released Cristian Pavón, who made no mistake in drilling past Mariano Barboza.
Gago had the chance to wrap up the win from the penalty spot after a handball but his tame effort was saved. However, Boca held on for a deserved victory and are continuing to show signs that with the Primera season still over two weeks away, they remain the team to beat.
Match winner Pavón, linked with a big money transfer to Zenit St. Petersburg or Monaco, played down such talk at full time: “Every player wants to go and play in Europe, but, for now, I am calm and waiting to see what happens. If it’s my turn to leave, I’ll leave. If it’s my turn to stay, I’ll stay.”