Two goals, two red cards and plenty of drama as the latest Superclásico between Boca Juniors and River Plate ended all square on Sunday afternoon. An empty Bombonera played host to the 253rd official meeting between the two great rivals and while it might not have been a derby of the highest quality it certainly had its moments.
Boca came into the game off the back of their sensational 7-1 win over Vélez yet were without the influential Edwin Cardona, an absence that allowed visitors River to dominated the early stages. Marcelo Gallardo had watched his team fail to break down Argentinos Juniors last Monday and opted for an attacking line-up with recent signing Agustín Palavecino earning his first start.
For all of their possession River still struggled to create clear chances and aside from Lisandro López making a last ditch clearance with Esteban Andrada out of goal, an opening goal didn’t appear imminent.
That was until Boca clicked into gear. An attack down the left side with full-back Frank Fabra opened up River and Carlos Tevez was denied by a superb save from Franco Armani.
Tevez though, who had returned impressively against Vélez, would play a vital role in the breakthrough soon after. The veteran forward rolling back the years with a deft flick into the path of Nicolás Capaldi, who was clumsily brought down by Paulo Díaz allowing Sebastián Villa to score from the penalty spot.
With no changes at the break it was Boca now in the ascendancy and Gonzalo Maroni spurned a glorious chance before Tevez and Villa forced Armani into a smart double stop.
Gallardo was readying changes with River appearing to let the game slip away until Fabricio Angileri did well down the left and his cross was headed in by Superclásico debutant Palavecino.
The momentum suddenly shifted back to River with Carlos Zambrano shown a second yellow card after catching Rafael Santos Borré with his arm and it was now Andrada’s turn to show off his national team credentials with an acrobatic stop to deny Angileri.
River’s man advantage didn’t last long, Milton Casco picking up his second yellow card and with ten versus ten for the final twelve minutes, either team could have won it.
The visitors certainly came closest. River substitute Federico Girotti’s drilled cross deflecting off Carlos Izquierdoz, the Boca defender with head in hands as the ball fizzed past Andrada only for the spin on the ball to somehow prevent it from crossing the goalline.
A remarkable and dramatic ending fitting of the fixture and ultimately a fair result.
And at the Estadio Florencio Solá it ended goalless between Banfield and San Lorenzo.
Diego Dabove brought the Romero brothers, Óscar and Ángel back into the starting eleven to try and add some creativity to the attack but El Ciclón still managed to fashion clear chances.
Banfield weren’t at their best and lost Martín Payero to injury just after the break which saw San Lorenzo have the upper hand but barring a few speculative efforts forcing Mauricio Arboleda into good saves there was little action.
Still only one win for Dabove as San Lorenzo manager who must secure Copa Libertadores progression this week to avoid a crisis.