Tributes for Diego Maradona were evident across the world but there was not likely to be a more emotional meeting than the scheduled clash between Boca Juniors and Newell’s Old Boys. The now named Copa Diego Maradona had by fate scheduled the match between two of his former clubs and with daughter Dalma watching on from her father’s famous box at La Bombonera, his beloved Boca earned a 2-0 win.
It took only eleven minutes for Edwin Cardona to bend a free-kick past Ramiro Macagno from the edge of the penalty area and with that the Boca players, all wearing shirts bearing the name of Maradona, headed towards the balcony where for so many years Diego could be found hanging precariously from, his shirt swinging wildly above his head. With an Argentina shirt placed on the ground and the players applauding, Dalma was brought to tears. The perfect homage to a player that brought so much joy to the club.
Newell’s lost Nacho Scocco to injury and soon after their miserable start was compounded with Cardona doubling the lead.
It got worse before the break as Angelo Gabrielli was shown a second yellow card but the half time tribute with the lights out at La Bombonera served as a reminder that there were important matters than the action on the pitch.
Ramón Ábila’s wayward penalty soon after the restart denied Boca the chance to make it three but it was comfortable from that a point for the home side. Boca’s burly number nine spoke of his brother’s suicide at full-time to add to the emotion of the occasion.
Manager Miguel Angel Russo explained how difficult it was for his side in the circumstance: “I knew it was going to be an uphill struggle. The phrase I used was that, to pay homage to the best in the world, you have to play well and that Boca needed to win.
“It was the best way to pay homage to him, to play this beautiful sport well that he played to an incomparably high level. We got through it in the best way. I am happy for the victory. The day has been covered by a blanket because of what Diego Maradona was as a player and person.”
There is little time for Boca to dwell as attention switches immediately to Wednesday’s rescheduled Copa Libertadores last 16 clash with Internacional for which Carlos Tevez and Eduardo Salvio should return.
Boca’s place in the next round of the Copa isn’t yet confirmed though after Lanús snatched a stoppage time winner over Talleres.
A draw would have been enough to see Boca progress and it looked likely as the game ticked past 90 minutes with the hosts already reduced to ten men after seeing Alexander Bernabei sent off.
However, the in-form Nicolás Orsini had other ideas receiving the ball in a pocket of space on the edge of the box and instinctively firing into the bottom corner.
Newell’s are out of the running but the three remaining teams in Group 4 will battle it out next weekend for the two places in the Fase Campeonato. Boca head to Córdoba to play Talleres while Lanús are in Rosario to face Newell’s and for both those visiting teams the games come days after difficult Copa Libertadores and Copa Sudamericana ties respectively.
Group 6 will also go to the final weekend after Huracán eked out a 1-0 win over Patronato in Parque Patricios.
The visitors had a glorious opportunity to take an early lead only for Christian Chimino to blaze over a penalty and then inside ten minutes they were behind. Goalkeeper Daniel Sappa flapped at a cross and Juan Garro was able to head Huracán in front.
Huracán finish the group in La Plata against Gimnasia while Vélez travel to Patronato with two from three hoping for a place in the next round.
Neither Defensa y Justicia nor Central Córdoba will be in the next round but it didn’t prevent the Ferroviario picking up their first win of the cup at the expense of their hosts preoccupied with Copa Sudamericana fixtures.
Pablo Argañaraz and Claudio Riaño put Central Córdoba into a two-goal lead yet after Miguel Merentiel had pulled one back and Franco Paredes equalised eight minutes from time it appeared as though momentum was with the home side.
Yet deep into added time, a defensive lapse provided substitute Santiago Rosales acres of space only six yards out and Central Córdoba sealed victory.