Champions Boca Juniors might have fielded a second-string side but there was no doubting their commitment in a thrilling 3-3 draw with Huracán on Saturday. El Globo clawing back a two-goal deficit for a point that was ultimately enough to qualify for the 2019 Copa Libertadores.
Daniel Montenegro was honoured before kick-off as the veteran midfielder started his final game before retirement and it was a significant moment for another player on the pitch as Fernando Gago made his return from injury after seven months out.
Huracán led early when the impressive Ignacio Pussetto slotted past Guillermo Sara, perhaps his last goal before a well earned move to Europe, but Boca responded well.
Gago began pulling the strings and after 32 minutes former San Lorenzo defender Emmanuel Mas headed Boca level. Almost immediately after Walter Bou slipped in a second and before the break Junior Benitez added a third.
Huracán’s dreams of a return to the Libertadores were slipping away but an improved second half saw Diego Mendoza and Andrés Chávez nod in from close range to level it up.
Boca weren’t happy with the refereeing but the 70-minute performance of Fernando Gago was another example of the midfielder’s talent and if fit, a boost for the rest of the year while for Huracán, Libertadores qualification is just reward for a splendid campaign.
Huracán 3 – 3 Boca Juniors
In Florencio Varela, Defensa y Justicia confirmed their return to the Copa Sudamericana after a 2-0 win over relegated Arsenal.
Fabian Bordagaray’s smart finish straight after half-time broke the deadlock and Mariano Bareiro’s header wrapped up the points. Juan Pablo Vojvoda’s side have been terrific over the second half of the season and if they can keep the squad together can look forward to next season.
Meanwhile in Paraná, Banfield earned a point after a goalless draw that leaves both themselves and Patronato bobbing around mid-table. Patronato’s big test comes next season when relegation will be a real concern.