Nicolas Lodeiro scored the game's only goal, but it was the presence of the 'People's Player' that helped shift the balance in Argentina's fiercest rivalry, writes Daniel Edwards.
“The police fire pepper spray,” read the mocking banner in the Monumental which welcomed Boca Juniors into unfriendly territory. Arch-rival River Plate have certainly enjoyed the Superclasico, the match which brings all four corners of Argentina to a stop, in recent years.
Even more so since those shameful scenes that marked the last meeting between the two clubs before Sunday. There, unable to vanquish their enemies on the pitch and recover a 1-0 aggregate lead, Boca supporters resorted to the cowardliest of attacks. The result was a swift elimination from the Copa Libertadores, and the further insult of watching River go on to win the trophy.
Now, thanks in part to an inspired Carlos Tevez, those wounds can begin to heal.
The former Juventus man thought his dreams had come true 19 minutes into the first half. A rapid Xeneize breakaway down the right flank by Sebastian Palacios led to Tevez arriving alone in the area. He took down the ball with typical class and looked to get around the final obstacle, goalkeeper Marcelo Barovero.
Barovero’s desperate lunge just managed to deny Boca’s No. 10, but Nicolas Lodeiro was on hand to thump the ball home off the rebound and send the visitor into the lead. Tevez did not grab that goal that would have brought River minds racing back to 2004, when an impudent young striker taunted them with a ‘Chicken Dance’ in the middle of a Libertadores semifinal. But he was nevertheless the hub of Boca’s attacks, always keeping River nervous and playing a crucial role in the only goal of the evening.
It is only fair to clarify that River was complicit in its downfall. More than anything, the twin towers of Jonathan Maidana and Ramiro Funes Mori were sorely missed in defense. The latter secured a move to Everton and the Premier League, while the former failed a late fitness test to miss out on the derby.