Thursday 17 January 2019

Quintero the hero as extra-time strike secures crown for River Plate

River Plate 3 Boca Juniors 1

Gonzalo Martinez celebrates. Photo: Reuters
Gonzalo Martinez celebrates. Photo: Reuters

Phil Blanche

River Plate won the Copa Libertadores by coming from behind to beat rivals Boca Juniors 3-1 in extra-time of their controversially rearranged final in Madrid.

Juan Quintero all but settled a keenly-fought encounter at the Bernabeu with a stunning strike after 109 minutes before Gonzalo Martinez broke away for a third, securing a 5-3 aggregate success, in the dying moments.

River Plate's Enzo Perez in action with Boca Juniors' Dario Benedetto. Photo: Reuters
River Plate's Enzo Perez in action with Boca Juniors' Dario Benedetto. Photo: Reuters

Boca had taken a first-half lead through Dario Benedetto but River hit back through Lucas Pratto and Boca's hopes were badly hit after Wilmar Barrios was sent off early in extra-time.

River ended the match victorious but the saga of this final, postponed and moved to Spain after Boca's team bus was attacked by rival fans in Buenos Aires, may not be over.

Boca failed to get the fixture suspended at the Court of Arbitration for Sport on Saturday but their attempts to have River disqualified could continue.

Boca were much the better side early on and almost went ahead when River's Jonathan Maidana sliced a clearance over his own bar.

Boca Juniors' Sebastian Villa in action with River Plate's Exequiel Palacios. Photo: Reuters
Boca Juniors' Sebastian Villa in action with River Plate's Exequiel Palacios. Photo: Reuters

Martinez shot well over for River, who then squandered another opening before Boca broke to take the lead.

In a breathless passage of play, Boca goalkeeper Esteban Andrada gave away the ball but River failed to take advantage and Cristian Pavon released Benedetto with a brilliant through ball.

Benedetto skipped over a challenge from Maidana and showed great composure to beat Franco Armani.

River were much more positive in the second half and they continued to dominate but without creating clear-cut chances until Pratto swept home the equaliser after a fine move in the 68th minute.

River Plate's Milton Casco celebrates after winning the final. Photo: Reuters
River Plate's Milton Casco celebrates after winning the final. Photo: Reuters

The game then became scrappy and drifted into extra-time, which got off to an explosive start when Barrios earned a second yellow card for a poor challenge on Exequiel Palacios.

River proceeded to dominate possession and their breakthrough came early in the second extra period.

They pieced together a series of passes and Quintero struck with a ferocious shot from the edge of the area that went in off the underside of the bar.

Boca responded by sending on Carlos Tevez, the former Manchester United and City forward.

River Plate's Juan Quintero celebrates scoring their second goal. Photo: Reuters
River Plate's Juan Quintero celebrates scoring their second goal. Photo: Reuters

Leonardo Jara hit a post for Boca in a frantic finish but they were punished for throwing men forward as River broke to score a third through Martinez in stoppage time.

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