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Boca Juniors - River Plate (1-1)
Clausura, 26 March 2006
Stadium : La Bombonera
Attendance :

Well, the day started in quintessential South American fashion when we managed to be both late and early at the same time. Late because the tour company turned up an hour after they were meant to. As there were still three hours before kick off we thought that lunch would be useful. No chance. Hot-footed it to the ground and took our seats two and three-quarter hours before the match. Two and three-quarter hours before the match. Still, they laid on pre-match entertainment in the form of Boca v River Under-21s. A good game, as it happens, with the result being 4-2 to Boca. It was also the time when the build up was allowed to get going (and it gave Vicky a chance to put on her make-up). Our seats were really high up within abuse-shouting distance of the away fans. And boy did they shout abuse. Just in case we couldnít understand, they made helpful gesticulations generally involving slashing movements and the gripping of genitals. I donít see how they could make such comments about my mother without ever having known the lady (especially with today being Motherís Day). Maradona appeared in his box and caused the usual kerfuffle.



The undercard game finished and we could all start to prepare for the main event. As is the way with away fans, they rather outsung us at this point, but the Boca muchachos brought out the drums and trumpets which evened things up a lot. Special fun was provided at this point when we sang a song that required the whole crowd to pogo. The stadium shook and we were at the top of it. The Boca muchachos to our right, underneath the River fans, had coordinated oblong balloons and at some point they all started rubbing them together. Iíve never heard a mass squeak before Ė it was impressive. Out of this particular grouping a man appeared dressed as a monkey. He stood on a barrier and led the next bit of the fun (generally shouting abuse at the River fans). Soon after, first victory of the day went to these Boca fans who managed to grab a River banner. Our lot went mental, or so I thought, but we hadnít yet seen the start of the match.

Pitch activity started to get frenzied with influxes of dancing girls, tv cameras, dignitaries, nunca mas banners (Ďnever againí about the Dirty War), inflatable tunnels, streamers, men with flags andÖoh, just loads of things. The ground was by now full and everyone was singing very loudly with the odd bit of pogoing thrown in for good measure. Our section and the away fans were now at verbal and gesticulation daggers drawn.



Anyway, the River players came out to the expected chorus of boos and whistles, although their fans upped the ante on the noise front. The Boca players kept us all waiting for a bit but when they arrived it was worth it. Now, Iíve been to a number of spectacular games including the Milan derby, but it was nothing like this. Flares, fireworks and bombs were set off, flags were set to waving, streamers were thrown (many, many streamers) and the noise was just incredible. The streamers had a secret purpose, we were to discover. The opposition goalkeeper was most unfortunately sent to the bigger of the home ends, and, along with a variety of not very helpful helpers, set about cleaning his penalty area up. The muchachos had many, many more streamers, meaning the match couldnít start until they had run out of streamers or decided to cease the projectile throwing. The game was actually delayed for about twenty minutes the reason being that the home fans had a show planned. With everyone waiting to start playing the fans produced the biggest flag in the world. Or so we thought. For after they had rolled it out with the coordination only ever previously demonstrated by Cecil B. Demille and then rolled it back up again (after a song and a dance), they threw more streamers on to add to the delay. This then allowed them to unfurl truly the biggest flag in the world. Thereís a picture to illustrate it, but it doesnít capture the shocking, thrilling majesty of the moment.

Once the home fans had decided their show was over, we were allowed to get on with the game (after a minuteís silence for the Disappeared). It was pretty drab fare for the most part of The opening exchanges, with Boca missing a couple of chances, Palacio being particularly guilty and Palermo being virtually invisible. Number 23, Daniel Bilos, was showing some energy and verve, however, and as a defensive midfielder who is not shy of going forward, heís possibly one to watch (or for United to buy, if your reading this Alex and Carlos).

The fans continued to abuse each other and occasionally turn their attention to the game until everything went a bit wrong when the River number 9, Farias, went and scored in the 40th minute. Cue absolute mayhem in the River end and stunned silence amongst our lot (not for long). Interestingly, our section managed to cut out the existence of 5000 baying, singing, dancing, screaming, abusive, pogoing, gesticulating chicos to our immediate right and concentrate on the game below.

Half time saw loads more action on the pitch, and at the restart it was the River players who this time kept us waiting. Batteries recharged and enthusiasm reinvigorated, the home fans found their voices once more and the spectacle was back on. However, all was not well, with Boca short on ideas and never quite finding the final ball when it was needed. Desperation started to creep in with wide open spaces at the back. This met itís natural conclusion when River broke with Argentinaís national goalkeeper, Abbondanzieri, stranded near the half way line. He flattened the River forward and was promptly sent off.

Down to 10 men, Boca managed to exert some desperate pressure, but inevitable gaps continued to appear at the back, especially as Bilos was now playing as a third forward. And, when River broke again. it was down to No 24, Krupoviesa, to poleaxe the advancing forward. Result Ė Boca down to 9 men! River fans now ultra-mental, Boca fans incredibly glum. River spurned the chance to seal the game (hit the post) and then the ref evened things up a bit by sending off a River player for a handball reminiscent of the one that Diego committed in Ď86 Ė only he got a goal against his name for it. Diego, by the way, had his top off by now and was leading the chanting against the River fans.

So 9 against 10 and Boca up the ante with waves of fairly toothless attacks. However veteran forward Guillermo Schelotto (on for Bilos), is showing a few silky skills and with 1 minute of time to play he waltzes into the box and is brought down. Penalty! Cue mayhem around the ground while Palermo is insisting to teammates that he gets to take it. Some fans canít bear to watch, but itís slotted away. Yet more mayhem and a fair few tears. Our turn to question the family arrangements of the red-and-whites and time for the odd missile to be thrown. The 10 police separating the tribes not too bothered by this.

Boca on the up and a couple of decent movements come to nought. All the sendings off, time-wasting (River goalie booked) and injuries should have led to at least 10 minutes of added time, but we only got about 4. Still, to Boca it felt like a victory amd the last 20 minutes had been some of the most exciting football I have ever seen. That, combined with the fans, meant this was all a bit special. Schelotto was carried around the pitch shoulder-high, having been awarded man-of-the-match, entirely based on his dramatic last-minute fall.

We stayed behind for half an hour with the Boca fans abusing the River supporters, who started a small fire for fun and/or in retaliation. Missiles were exchanged, but not to any great degree and a great time was had by all. Maradona was still dancing in his box (and Iím sure, out of it) as we left pitchside for a trip around the museum.

Report added : 01 April 2006
Report by : Johnhttp://blogs.bootsnall.com/K_Eric77/
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