Copa Libertadores

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Rematch: Boca to meet River in Copa Libertadores

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The best rivalry in all of South American soccer will be coming to the Copa Libertadores for the second-straight year.

After last year’s drama on and off the field in the Copa Libertadores final, River Plate’s aggregate win over Cerro Porteno of Paraguay ensured there would be another Superclasico, this time in the Copa Libertadores semifinals. River Plate tied Cerro Porteno, 1-1, on Thursday evening in Paraguay, advancing to the semifinals 3-1 on aggregate. Boca Juniors advanced to the semifinals with a 3-0 aggregate win over LDU Quito of Ecuador.

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It’s the first time both teams will be playing each other in an official match since last December’s Copa Libertadores final.

Last year’s Copa Libertadores final, which was being used by the Argentine football authorities to prove that they could host a future Copa America or World Cup, was a spectacular disaster, at least regarding security.

The first leg had to be delayed 24 hours due to torrential rain, and then ended up being a wild, 2-2 affair at Boca Juniors’ La Bombonera Stadium. The second leg was initially postponed one day, then two after Boca Juniors’ bus was attacked by River Plate fans on its way to the stadium, injuring some players and making the game a complete farce. Somehow a CONMEBOL doctor decided the players were good enough to play, even though one suffered temporary optical damage.

Eventually, CONMEBOL came to the conclusion that the game couldn’t be forfeited, but also couldn’t be played in Buenos Aires. A decision was made to move the game to Madrid, where security was in place, there were no issues, and the game finished with River Plate winning after extra time. Even prior to the final, CONMEBOL had announced that it was getting rid of the traditional two-legged finals in place of one in a neutral setting.

All of that is the backdrop to the next Superclasico this year. Suddenly, it’s yet another two-legged affair to take place in Buenos Aires, though perhaps Argentina’s security apparatus can take this opportunity to learn from last year’s mistakes. The first leg is scheduled for October 1 at River Plate’s Estadio Monumental, before returning to La Bombonera on October 22 for the second leg.

Must-See Goals: Libertad v. The Strongest (video)

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Paraguayan side Libertad advanced to the third round of Copa Libertadores qualification on Wednesday evening by thrashing Bolivian side, The Strongest, 5-1 (6-2 on aggregate). But the highlights of the night didn’t come until well into the second half.

First, former Benfica and Paraguay star Oscar Cardozo scored from the halfway line, and then Ayrton Cougo, in the 90th minute, fired home a wicked, bending strike with the outside of his left boot. The Copa Libertadores always brings the golazos.

Must-See Goal: Libertad’s Adrian Martinez

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The Copa Libertadores always brings the drama and fantastic goals too.

Trailing 1-0 on the road in the mountains of Bolivia, Paraguayan side Libertad found the all-important game-tying goal. In the 82nd minute, off a partially cleared corner kick, Adrian Martinez chested a lofted ball back into the box and then rifled home a strike on the volley.

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Watch and enjoy!

Extra-time golazo lifts River over Boca in Copa Libertadores final

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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.

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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.

 

River Plate v. Boca Juniors to be shown live on NBC Sports

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Big news!

NBC Sports Group will air the eagerly-anticipated second leg of the Copa Libertadores 2018 final this Sunday.

WATCH LIVE ONLINE, HERE

The game in Madrid, Spain between Argentine arch-rivals River Plate and Boca Juniors kicks off at 2 p.m. ET and will be available to watch in Spanish on Telemundo and online via NBCSports.com and via the NBC Sports app.

Whoever wins the match will be crowned as the best club team in South America this year, as the rivals from Buenos Aires lock horns in one of the greatest battles Argentinian soccer has ever seen.

Telemundo’s coverage will include special segments and analysis around the matchup, beginning at 1:00 p.m. ET, and a post-game show will air following the match.

With the scores locked at 2-2 following the first leg of the final at Boca’s La Bombonera stadium on Nov. 11, the second leg was postponed due to fan violence outside River’s Estadio Monumental on Nov. 24.

CONMEBOL, the governing body of soccer in South America, decided it wasn’t safe to play the second leg in Buenos Aires and instead selected to host the showpiece event in Madrid, Spain at Real Madrid’s legendary Santiago Bernabeu Stadium this weekend.

Click on the link above to watch the final which will not only crown the top dogs in South America, but also select which team will take part in FIFA’s 2018 World Club Cup in the UAE over the next few weeks.

You can also watch the Club World Cup live online via NBCSports.com and via the NBC Sports app.


Sunday, December 9

Copa Libertadores final 2018, second leg
River Plate v. Boca Juniors (2-2 on aggregate after first leg) – STREAM LIVE