Sunday 09 December 2018, 22:08

River Plate triumph in Superclásico Libertadores final

  • River Plate secure fourth Copa Libertadores title against Boca Juniors

  • Juan Quintero, Gonzalo Martinez clinched 3-1 win in Madrid

  • They now qualify for their second FIFA Club World Cup

River Plate secured the final place at the FIFA Club World Cup after they triumphed in the Copa Libertadores final with a 5-3 aggregate win over Buenos Aires rivals Boca Juniors.

A Juan Quintero screamer and late Gonzalo Martinez tap-in settled the match after Diego Benedetto and Lucas Pratto had exchanged goals to see the second leg in Madrid’s Santiago Bernabeu go to extra time.

The dismissal of Wilmar Barrios swung the pendulum in River’s favour and Quintero’s sensational strike – rattling off the underside of the bar – before Martinez's last-second breakaway goal saw them win 3-1 on the night and claim a fourth Libertadores title in the competition’s last two-legged final.

Pablo Perez could easily have had Boca two goals to the good as they enjoyed the clearest chance of the energetic opening exchanges of the biggest Superclasico in history. Left all alone at the back post, Los Xenezies’ captain could only volley straight at Franco Armani following a corner, while River needed a heroic block from Milton Casco to deny him as he picked up the scraps following a free-kick.

The opener came after River had spurned their clearest opening at the other end. Esteban Andrada in the Boca net gave away the ball needlessly outside his area, though where Los Millonarios lacked composure to convert, Benedetto had stacks of it.

A lightning counter saw the frontman – fed by a sensational Nahitan Nandez through ball - skip beyond Maidana and slot coolly beyond Armani two minutes before the break.

River remerged energised, with Ignacio Fernandez flashing narrowly wide from distance to clearly state their intentions. It took 20 minutes of probing and testing Andrada before they levelled.

It was a delightful move that brought it, with Boca’s backline sliced to blue ribbons by a quick-fire series of incisive passes, leaving Pratto to fire into the gaping net.

While clear chances dried up, the intensity remained as the sides couldn’t be separate and the final moved into an additional 30 minutes. That passion overflowed moments after it began, with Barrios seeing Boca reduced to ten men for his second yellow.

The tide then shifted heavily in the favour of those in white and red and Quintero struck a ferocious effort with his left foot to put them ahead on the night for the first time. Ten-man Boca hurled everything at them to try to snatch an equaliser – with Leonardo Jara hitting the post – but it didn’t materialise, with Martinez rolling into an empty net with the last kick of the game.

They will now head to their second-ever Club World Cup, having featured in 2015 when they finished second behind Barcelona.

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