If River Plate’s elimination 24 hours earlier was viewed as heroic, Boca Juniors’ defeat to Santos in the Copa Libertadores’ second semi-final was humiliating. The Argentinian giants were both on the end of 3-0 defeats but while River’s came at home in the first leg making way for Tuesday’s rousing yet ultimately fruitless fightback, Boca’s arrived with their tie in the balance after a goalless draw in Buenos Aires.
There had been question marks over Miguel Ángel Russo’s Boca, from the full-backs to the central midfield, to the form of key man Eduardo Salvio and to the function of goal-shy number nine Franco Soldano and all were ruthlessly exposed by a Santos side who gleefully set up the all-Brazilian final with Palmeiras.
The dangerous Marinho crashed an early warning sign against the Boca post inside 30 seconds and while it was a let-off for the visitors it proved to set the tone for a dominant performance.
Santos didn’t have to wait long for the opening goal, Yeferson Soteldo’s shot hitting the arm of Lisandro López and while the appeals went up, Diego Pituca reacted to spin and fire the ball past Esteban Andrada.
A single goal would still be enough for Boca but after a misfiring opening 45 minutes, Russo attempted to inject some urgency into midfield.
The introduction of Nicolás Capaldo barely had a chance to make any difference when Soteldo cut in off the left wing and crashed a superb shot into the top corner.
And two quickly became three. Marinho making his way into the Boca box after a one-two with Kaio Jorge to square for Lucas Braga and all but end Boca’s dreams of Libertadores title number seven.
Frustrations boiled over and Frank Fabra saw red for a stamp on Marinho and it was actually when down to ten that Boca posed any kind of threat. Unable to find even a consolation however it was an embarrassing exit that will leave Boca asking a number of questions.
Santos and Palmeiras will face off on January 30th as Argentina’s interest dies. Both River Plate and Boca Juniors have plenty to ponder and with the financial difficulties facing both clubs, refreshing the starting elevens to challenge the Brazilians will be as difficult as ever.