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HomeFootballWhen rivals become helpers: Boca Juniors champions after heart-stopping final

When rivals become helpers: Boca Juniors champions after heart-stopping final

Boca Juniors are champions of Argentina for the 35th time – and had arch-rivals River Plate to thank for that in the showdown on the final matchday.

The constellation was actually crazy enough. And a harbinger of what could happen – and was to happen late on Sunday night (CEST) in the showdown for the Argentine championship.

Boca were leading Racing by one point before the last of 27 matchdays in the bloated 28-team league, and of course the final games of two big Argentine clubs were taking place at the same time. And not against just anyone.

While Boca Racing hosted arch-rivals Independiente, Boca’s arch-rivals River were able to stop Racing in a direct duel. The respective guests were spoilt for choice: either give in to the upcoming champions in a suspiciously weak manner – or possibly make sure that their dearest enemy, of all people, gets to celebrate.

Praise for Independiente and River

The day after the showdown, which truly owed no spectacle, the protagonists of both “supporting cast” receive great accolades. Independiente and River had opted for option two. And in the championship race, they provided a final act that will be talked about for a long time in Argentina.

Little happened at first. Half an hour had passed, 0-0 in both games. Then suddenly Independiente led, but just two minutes later Boca Juniors equalised and held on top of the live standings. Shortly after the break, they even took the lead through a Sebastian Villa free-kick goal, but soon after Racing also took the lead. It remained exciting.

The nerves fail

Almost simultaneously, the two title contenders conceded the equaliser around the 80th minute, so Boca were on their way to celebrating their draw like a victory. Because if there was no winner, the ex-club of Diego Armando Maradona or Juan Roman Riquelme were champions. Then a whistle. They could hear it in the Bombonera, too, on the sidelines and in the stands, glued to their mobile phones. Penalty for Racing, in the 90th minute.

Boca themselves were unable to score the winning goal of their own when, just a few kilometres away, River keeper Franco Armani saved Jonathan Galvan’s spot-kick that would almost certainly have made Racing champions. Instead, a late counter-attacking goal saw River walk off the pitch as winners – and finally opened the arch-rivals’ big party.



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