A Superliga season devoid of any great quality served up the highest drama on Saturday evening as Carlos Tevez struck late in La Bombonera to give Boca Juniors victory over Diego Maradona’s Gimnasia and with it leapfrog fierce rivals River Plate to the title.
Two-time Copa Libertadores winning coach Marcelo Gallardo, chasing his first league title as River manager, needed only four points to capture the Superliga from the final two fixtures. Last week’s draw with Defensa y Justicia at the Monumental still left it in the hands of the Millonarios but a second consecutive draw away to Atlético Tucumán left the door ajar for Boca and Tevez barged his way through.
Once the red carpet rolled out for Boca and Argentina icon Diego Maradona had been tidied away, frustration set in at La Bombonera as Miguel Ángel Russo’s side struggled to break down Gimnasia. This only exacerbated by news from Tucumán that River Plate were not on course for their expected three points.
The tightest of offside calls had denied Rafael Santos Borré an early goal in Tucumán and when instead Javier Toledo rose to head Atlético in front from a corner after 19 minutes, the possibility of an upset first reared its head.
Those fears for River supporters were soon allayed when Matías Suárez nodded in a swift equaliser. With Boca still goalless at La Bombonera and Gallardo’s side now on top there was no reason for panic.
The second goal however never materialised. Nacho Fernández saw a strong shout for a penalty waved away but River failed to find their usual attacking groove and as long as it remained level, the danger of Boca finding a goal loomed.
Back in Buenos Aires and Russo’s side were making heavy work of things too. Eduardo Salvio guilty of blasting Boca’s best chance wide as it looked as the prospect of the Xeneizes blowing their opportunity grew by the minute.
But with less than 20 minutes remaining, Carlos Tevez sent La Bombonera into rapture. The 36-year-old’s fiercely struck shot was too hot for Jorge Broun and with the lead against Gimnasia all eyes were on Tucumán.
River still couldn’t find a way past Cristian Lucchetti for the second time and as the full time whistles sounded at the two grounds, Boca erupted in celebration.
Failure to secure victory for the second weekend running cost Marcelo Gallardo his league title while Carlos Tevez rolled back the year to give Boca a third league trophy in four years. The veteran’s career looked virtually over during 2019 yet five goals in the six consecutive wins that Boca ended the campaign with secured yet another winners medal for El Jugador del Pueblo.
Nothing can make up for the 2018 Libertadores final but Boca’s latest Superliga title comes as a bitter blow to Marcelo Gallardo and River Plate. That of course makes it all the sweeter for those in blue and gold.
Boca Juniors 1 – 0 Gimnasia
Atlético Tucumán 1 – 1 River Plate
Away from the drama of the title decider, Huracán pulled of a surprise 3-0 win away to Banfield and Defensa y Justicia climbed to fifth with victory over relegation threatened Patronato.
Israel Damonte only retired as a player at Banfield at the end of 2019 to take over at Huracán and after ending El Globo’s winless run last week the 38-year-old returned to the Estadio Florencio Sola with El Globo to secure back-to-back wins.
Martín Ojeda volleyed the opener just after the half hour mark and although Banfield threatened, Huracán made sure of the points after the break. Nicolás Cordero fired in a free-kick before Andrés Chávez scored against his former club to make it three.
While not far away Defensa y Justicia stretched their unbeaten run to ten with a 2-0 win over Patronato.
Fernando Márquez slotted in a 65th minute penalty before Patronato midfielder Lautaro Torres was shown a straight red card for denying a goal scoring opportunity. Héctor Martínez then made certain of the result with a stunning goal from the resulting free-kick as El Halcón extended their fine run.