Nothing else matters to Guillermo Barros Schelotto, his squad or Boca Juniors’ supporters ahead of next week’s decisive Copa Libertadores final against River Plate. The team selection for Saturday’s Superliga fixture against Patronato proved that and while a second-string Boca should comfortably deal with the relegation candidates, it took a late Cristian Espinoza goal to snatch all three points.
Aside from Carlos Tevez starting, which may suggest the veteran won’t replace Cristian Pavón at the Monumental next Saturday, the notable inclusion in Barros Schelotto’s starting eleven was Esteban Andrada. The goalkeeper hasn’t featured since breaking his jaw against Cruzeiro in September and having now returned to action it is thought that Andrada may even take the place of Agustín Rossi against River.
Andrada certainly didn’t show any lack of sharpness or confidence and as Patronato troubled Boca, each time the visitors did manage to find the target, Boca’s number one was equal to it.
It could have perhaps been an easier afternoon’s work had Tevez not volleyed wide an excellent early chance but aside from a couple of long range efforts and Bruno Urribarri sliding the ball away from off the toes of Espinoza, Boca were well below par.
Patronato may well have left with a point and had a strong penalty claim for handball against Paolo Goltz waved away but the game was eventually won eight minutes from time. Mauro Zárate stood up a cross to the back post and Espinoza, whose loan deal at the club expires next month, volleyed in to break the deadlock.
Andrada was forced into a fine, late save to preserve the lead and with it Boca secured the points. The champions remain eight points behind leaders Racing Club and a title defence looks unlikely at this point but it won’t really matter should the club win in the Monumental next Saturday.