Copa Libertadores 2018 Final, Second Leg: River Plate 3-1 Boca Juniors (AET)- 3 Observations from the match
It was a spectacular night of football at the Santiago Bernebau as River Plate came out on top against Boca Juniors to win the Copa Libertadores for the fourth time in their history.
Neither side was able to truly get a grip on the game for prolonged periods, and it was a very entertaining match that kept all fans at the edge of their seats.
The atmosphere was rocking at the Bernebau, and it was a who's who of World Football present in attendance, as stars like Lionel Messi, Paulo Dybala, Leonardo Bonnucci to name a few, were present in the boxes at Real Madrid's home.
It was Boca Juniors who took the lead for his team at the 44th minute after a defensive mix up between River's center-backs saw Nandez find Dario Benedetto in acres of space.
He was able to skip away from a weak challenge before scoring past Maidana, slotting it in the bottom right corner.
The home side on the night brought on Colombian playmaker Juan Quintero for Leonardo Ponzio at the hour mark, and the former Porto midfielder took the game by the scruff of its neck, instantly becoming the fulcrum of River's every attacking move.
He created three big chances, completed 92% of his passes and took 4 shots on goal, scoring with his last one.
Lucas Pratto fired the hosts level shortly after the Colombian came on, who played a neat one-two with Ignacio Fernandez, and the Argentine laid Pratto on in the perfect position to equalize.
The game soon went to extra time as neither side could find a deciding goal after playing over 180 minutes of football, and the first period produced much drama, as Barrios was given his marching orders for going in late with his studs showing in a reckless challenge on Palacios.
With Boca down to ten men, River Plate threw on an extra striker in Juan Alvarez for Palacios, who may have been injured by Barrios as he strolled off to the bench to put an ice pack on his leg.
There was no decisive moment that could split the two teams even after a half of extra time, but River had an extra man and their supporters shouting their lungs out behind them.
It was not long into the second half of Extra Time, and Juan Quintero scored a beautiful goal from the edge of the area with a sublime left-footed effort that flew beyond the outstretched Andrada into the top left corner.
Carlos Tevez was brought on with nine minutes to go by the away side, and in vein, as the once dogged Argentinian looked out of sorts.
The Boca coach might have wished he didn't make the change, as Fernando Gago strolled off with an injury with four minutes to go, leaving his team with just nine men.
Boca came incredibly close still, hitting the post at the 120th minute, and the resulting corner saw them bring out their goalkeeper in a hail mary attempt to salvage the game.
It proved to be a terrible decision, as Quintero slid the ball for Gonzalo Martinez, who had acres of space to run into before shooting the ball in an empty net. Here are the observations from the game.
#1 Palacios isn't ready for the big stage just yet
Words of River president D'Onforio rang true, as Exequiel Palacios showed why he could use another year of developing, by being a fluctuating force tonight in the River midfield when the big lights shone on him.
He was expected to be the star tonight, and this was the perfect audition for him to showcase what all the hype was about, but he failed to, mustering just one shot on goal while creating no chances for his team-mates.
#2 Boca were their own worst enemy
Lucas Barrios' reckless behavior and the coach's unfortunate decision to throw on Tevez were two of the main reasons why River Plate won the SuperClasico at the Bernebau.
Barrios was booked late in the second half for a challenge that could have earned a red from a stricter referee. He was immensely rash the entire evening, lucky to have stayed on as long as he did.
Clearly, the occasion got to him, as he looked flustered in the middle of the park, with River players running circles around him in the second half.
Gago's injury at the 116th minute certainly didn't help things, as it left the away side with just nine men on the field, and the coach was almost in tears near the Full-Time whistle, as he knew his side had no way of getting back now with two men down. It was a great match for everyone unless you're a Boca fan.
#3 Why is Quintero not in Europe
No disrespect to River Plate, who are a grand club in their nation and continent, but Juan Quintero is a talent that deserves to showcase his skills at a much grander stage than where he is now.
At the World Cup for Columbia, he was superb, and tonight was another reminder to the World of his talents.
Quintero is still only 25, just entering the prime of his career, and he must surely try to move to a bigger league, where can display his talent to a much bigger audience.