River Plate after leading the standings in Argentina for the majority of 2020, slipped up on the last day, to hand their bitter rivals Boca Juniors the championship.
The two matches in question were Atlético Tucumán vs River Plate and Boca Juniors hosting Club de Gimnasia y Esgrima La Plata more simply known as Gimnasia at Estadio Alberto J. Armando. Going into the matches, it was River Plate who led the way by a narrow one-point advantage, meaning in order for Boca to win the title, they had to rely on Atlético Tucumán doing them a favour, as well as, winning themselves.
As the players came out of the tunnel at the Estadio Monumental José Fierro in Tucumán, the atmosphere was electric; packed to the rafters with Tucumán fans. The reason there were no River Plate fans in attendance is due to away supports being banned throughout Argentina.
Ten minutes in and there was a huge moment of controversy as River Plate forward Rafael Santos Borré had the ball in the back of the net, only for the linesman to rule him offside. Replays, however, suggest that Borré was onside. Due no use of VAR in Argentina, the decision could not be overturned. River Plate would then become even more frustrated just moments later when Javier Toledo headed home from a corner to give Atlético Tucumán a surprise 1-0 lead.
At the time of Tucumán's goal, things at La Bombonera were all square, which meant if the situation ended that way, both River and Boca would be level on points, meaning a play-off would be needed to decide the destiny of the title.
However, ten minutes before the break, a Matias Suárez header, pulled River level and they went into half time level.
In the Boca game despiting creating several chances, they couldn't find a way past Jorge Broun in the Gimnasia goal, and they also went into the break level. In the second half, Boca attempted to push and force a goal, and eventually, their persistency paid off with 18 left minutes to play. A shot by Carlos Tevez from the edge of the box had just enough to beat Broun, to put Boca 1-0 up... and with River still drawing, on top of the league standings.
River Plate created several chances of their own as well as, having many penalty appeals turned down. River couldn't find the goal they needed to give them their first title since 2014.
The failure of River Plate, was to the delight of the Boca fans when the final whistle ensuring Boca would be champions of Argentina for the 34th time, sparking wild celebrations from the fans, players, and coaching staff. After the game, River Plate coach Marcelo Gallardo showed a touch of class and paid his respects to Boca for their title win, he said
"If Boca are champions it’s for a reason. They got more points than us and won the game they needed to. I congratulate them."
"You learn in victory and defeat. We are not going to change who we are. Today we have to take responsibility and start again. We must know how to win and lose, without throwing the sh*t in another direction. And living together with defeat even if the others are wrong."
On the other side of the city, Boca Manager Miguel Ángel Russo was understandably over the moon at winning the Championship. He beamed,
"This is a combo of all things and luckily it went well. I thank Juan Román Riquelme and President Jorge Amor Ameal who trusted me. But precisely the people of Boca who needed this."
This was Boca’s third league title in four years and robbed River Plate of their first league flag since 2014.
Published 08 Mar 2020, 18:09 IST