BUENOS AIRES ( Associated Press) — With the contribution of a great goal by Colombian Frank Fabra, a timely Boca Juniors became champion of the 2022 League Cup of Argentine soccer by beating Tigre 3-0 in the final.
A headed goal by Marcos Rojo facilitated by a serious error by goalkeeper Gonzalo Marinelli in the last play of the first half and a left-footed bombshell by Fabra when Tigre accumulated merits to tie in the complement, tipped the balance in favor of Boca, who sentenced the match with a header from substitute Luis Vázquez.
Boca and Tigre played before 52,000 fans —supporters of both teams were able to attend— at the Mario Alberto Kempes stadium in Córdoba, a city in central Argentina.
In this way, Xeneize —the most successful club in Argentine soccer— reached its star number 72 in the global history. It was also their 16th domestic cup.
Likewise, Sebastián Battaglia, who was harshly questioned during some passages of the contest due to the low performance of his team, obtained his second title as coach of Boca, after the Argentine Cup won in December.
“We had many merits to get here. We beat all the rivals that qualified in our group… We won the classic. Today we hit at the right moments of the game”, declared Battaglia, the most successful man in the history of Boca, with 17 stars as a footballer and two as a strategist.
In a few days, Boca will play another decisive match: On Thursday they will have to beat Deportivo Cali at their La Bombonera stadium to advance to the round of 16 of the Copa Libertadores, their obsession and main goal of the season.
Tigre, promoted to the top flight six months ago, was unable to fulfill his dream of claiming champion in the first division for the second time. He had done it against the same rival and in the same scenario, in the 2019 Super League Cup.
Boca, which in the semifinals had beaten Racing Club in a penalty shootout after a goalless draw in which they had not kicked on goal, was slightly superior to Tigre in the first stage and generated three clear chances.
The first, a free kick by Sebastián Villa destined for a goal, avoided by Marinelli, and the second, a goal by Darío Benedetto correctly annulled for offside.
The third culminated in a celebration by Rojo, after his powerful header coming out of a corner. It looked like a simple ball for Tigre’s goalkeeper, but he slipped out of his hands over his head in the third minute of stoppage time.
The advantage did not improve the Xeneize. On the contrary, upon returning from the interval, Tigre, who had eliminated River Plate in the Monumental and Argentinos Juniors on penalties, went over him.
Mateo Retegui had three clear chances, but in two of them the figure of goalkeeper Agustín Rossi was enlarged to prevent equality.
And then, in the 67th minute, Fabra’s great left-footed shot from outside the area neutralized Marinelli’s fly-in and made it 2-0.
“I am very happy for all this time he has spent here in Boca, and for this shirt, which requires winning titles,” said the Colombian winger, who has seven wins at the club and is the longest-serving player on the squad.
Tigre fell apart and opened the door for the thrashing that sealed in the 85th minute with a set piece from Colombian Villa sent into the net by Vázquez.
Villa played after a week in which a prosecutor accused him in a case of sexual abuse of a young woman. The striker also faces another legal case for gender violence against a former partner.
A young woman, whose identity is being preserved, testified in court earlier this week that Villa raped her and beat her on June 26, 2021 at the player’s home, in a gated community south of the Argentine capital.
With a solid defense, Boca took advantage of his opportunism to shout champion again, something that has become customary since the arrival of Juan Román Riquelme to the vice presidency of the institution: it is his fourth title in two and a half years as head of club football .
Now, the greatest idol in modern history xeneize will try to pay his outstanding debt as leader, the Copa Libertadores.