It made little difference to the outcome but not for the first time La Bombonera’s pitch failed to cope with the torrential rain in Buenos Aires on Sunday evening and after a delay in play and a surface that did little to help the game, Gustavo Alfaro’s side defeated Godoy Cruz to progress to the Copa Superliga quarter finals.
Leading 2-1 from the first leg, Ramón Ábila tapped Boca further ahead at a corner before the heavens opened above La Bombonera rendering the next 20 minutes or so before referee Facundo Tello called a halt somewhat farsical.
After the rain eased a little and the leaf blowers had been out on the pitch and try and remove the standing water, play did get back underway and before Tello blew again for the delayed half time, Boca lost Emanuel Reynoso to injury. The 23-year-old has finally been able to show what he is capable of since joining Boca but will now miss the rest of the campaign with sprained knee ligaments.
Ábila doubled the lead soon after the restart, once more sweeping in from close range after Cristian Pavón raced on to Marcelo Weigandt’s well-weighted pass to deliver a perfect low cross.
Trailing 4-1 on aggregate, Godoy Cruz looked dead and buried but it didn’t prevent substitute Richard Prieto dashing in behind to pull a goal back. And with their tails up only a goalline Esteban Andrada stop prevented the visitors setting up a nervy finale.
Any potential jitters creeping in were swiftly dispelled when Mauro Zárate managed to sneak a free-kick inside Roberto Ramírez’s near-post from an acute angle and with that Boca secured their passage to the quarter finals. Vélez Sarsfield or Lanús, who play on Monday evening lie ahead for Gustavo Alfaro’s side.
Boca Juniors 3 – 1 Godoy Cruz (AGG 5-2)
Earlier in Florencio Varela, Defensa y Justicia’s unforgettable campaign came to an end with a whimper as Gimnasia managed to claim a 2-0 win that saw the relegation threatened Lobo progress.
After managing to run Racing Club close in the Superliga and finish runners-up, it has been a historic season for Defensa y Justicia but the Copa perhaps represented one final shot at glory for this group. Trailing 1-0 from the first leg in La Plata, Sebastián Beccacece would still have been confident his side had enough to overturn the deficit
However, barring a Matías Rojas free-kick that clipped off the crossbar, El Halcon never really went close to troubling Alexis Martín Arias during the first half.
The dangerous Jan Carlos Hurtado, who looks destined to be leaving Gimnasia during the coming window, had already threatened once when the 19-year-old stabbed the visitors in front following a corner that bounced around the six-yard box.
In need of three goals, Defensa y Justicia were already on the brink of exit but it was made certain when Maximiliano Comba finished off a swift counter attack.
Leonel Miranda would hit the woodwork and Nicolás Fernández and Rojas would again go close as Defensa searched for even a consolation but it wasn’t to be and ahead of what could be a dismantling in the transfer window, it will be interesting to how things develop in Florencio Varela.
Defensa y Justicia 0 – 2 Gimnasia (AGG 0-3)
Gimnasia will play Argentinos Juniors in the quarter finals after Los Bichos eventually got past San Lorenzo following an hour-long delay to kick off over the visitors bringing a kit which clashed with the hosts
Supporters at the Nuevo Gasómetro, who should have been celebrating the significant closure of supermarket Carrefour on their traditional stadium site ahead of the proposed return to Boedo, were instead made to wait in the dreary Buenos Aires weather for another torrid display that fueled cries for Jorge Almirón’s departure as manager.
Never looking likely to score and overturn last week’s defeat in La Paternal, only two wasted one-on-one chances, first from Claudio Spinelli and then Alexis Mac Allister kept San Lorenzo in the tie.
The lack of goals or even any kind of attacking cohesion has been painfully apparent under Almirón and while the efforts of 20-year-old Nahuel Barrios drew applause from the home fans, frustration only grew.
When Marcelo Herrera managed to scuff San Lorenzo in front it looked as though another penalty shootout could come to San Lorenzo’s rescue but Nicolás Reniero turning the ball into his own net, all but ended the contest.
Anger from the stands directed towards Almirón after only one win from nineteen domestic fixtures will bring with it a pressure that the coach may not be able to shake off. Progression in the Copa Libertadores a saving grace but perhaps increasingly more a sign of how poor San Lorenzo’s group is.