For all of the negativity surrounding the second leg of the Copa Libertadores final between River Plate and Boca Juniors — from the bus attack, to postponing the game, to moving it to Madrid — the
90 120 minutes of actual soccer delivered on the pre-final hype of a first-ever Superclasico to crown a South American champion.
Tied 2-2 after the first leg nearly a month ago now, Sunday’s second leg — played at Real Madrid’s Santiago Bernabeu — saw River Plate top their bitter Buenos Aires rivals 3-1 (5-3 on aggregate) in extra time.
Dario Benedetto put Boca ahead with the game’s opening goal just before halftime. While the finish was certainly clinical, it’s the through ball from Nahitan Nandez that stole the show, and rightly so. Nandez split two defenders with his inch-perfect pass into space, sending Benedetto in for a straightforward one-on-one chance which he slotted away with ease.
But River fought back with an exceptionally worked equalizer in the 68th minute. Ignacio Fernandez cut the ball back for Lucas Pratto who swept it home from near the penalty spot.
Juan Quintero hammered home the winning goal from outside the penalty area after 109 minutes. Quintero’s left-footed strike departed his foot like a missile and crashed off the underside of the crossbar.
River put the exclamation point on, and added insult to heartbreak, with a stoppage-time, empty-netter to make it 3-1. Gonzalo Martinez raced toward the end of the stadium full of blue and yellow-clad supporters and rolled the ball home with the last meaningful kick of the game.