Despite defending their Superliga title, Boca Juniors were under significant pressure on Wednesday evening as hopes of reaching the Copa Libertadores last 16 were out of their own hands. However, a 5-0 demolition of woeful Alianza Lima coupled with Palmeiras’ victory over Junior saw Guillermo Barros Schelotto’s side march on.
Potentially World Cup bound Cristian Pavón became only the second player to assist four goals in a Copa Libertadores game since 2013 as Boca’s victory in La Bombonera never looked in doubt.
Pavón slipped the ball to Edwin Cardona to rifle Boca ahead early and when he nodded the ball into the path of Frank Fabra to splendidly slot in a second, the only question was how many Boca would score.
That didn’t really matter given that a Junior victory in São Paulo would have eliminated Boca but with that game still goalless up until the break, Boca held the advantage.
Ramón Ábila held off a defender to clip in a delightful third and was on hand to tap in Boca’s fourth before the break.
Victory was secure and so now news from Brazil was all that mattered. Miguel Borja gave Palmeiras the lead, leaving Junior needing two, and so when the Colombians missed a penalty soon after, the supporters at La Bombonera breathed a sigh of relief.
Carlos Tevez thumped in a fifth and as Borja hit a hat-trick in São Paulo it rendered Teo Gutiérrez’s goal nothing but a consolation.
Palmeiras cruise through to the last 16, dropping just two points and while Boca sneak in behind them, it is clear that Barros Schelotto’s side will only get stronger. Keeping Pavón, particularly if the youngster impresses in Russia, could be difficult but Fernando Gago continued his comeback from injury with minutes on Wednesday and Darío Benedetto will soon be back. Few sides will want to meet Boca in the next round.