A few days ago Boca was thoroughly down in the dumps. Its exit from the Copa Argentina at the hands of Rosario Central signaled a trophy-less season without the prospect of international competition in the Copa Libertadores in the coming year.
“What next?” “How do you bounce back from this?” — just two of the many questions aimed at under-fire coach Guillermo Barros Schelotto. “With a victory in La Plata against a strong rival, bringing an end to our bad run,” replied an assured Barros Schelotto. A very bad run too. Not a single victory away from home since their 1-0 win against San Martin de San Juan all the way back in February. With that unwanted record and the disappointment of Thursday’s defeat to Central, Boca’s trip to La Plata represented a massive test of the team’s character.
And it passed with flying colors to get the season back on track, with Carlos Tevez and Darío Benedetto leading from the front to dismantle Gimnasia in an emphatic 3-0 victory.
Benedetto got the rout underway in the 32nd minute after a silky touch from the Boca number 9 played in Pablo Pérez. Gimnasia keeper Alexis Martín Arias could only parry the Boca midfielder’s low rifled shot back into the path of Benedetto who passed the ball into the open net to give the visitors a deserved lead.
This commentator, furious at what he deems a handball from Tévez in the build-up, clearly didn’t see it that way. “I don’t give a sh*t if it was accidental!” the enraged (and evidently not-so-neutral) commentator is heard saying. Well sir, if you look up page 36 of the FIFA rule-book, you’ll see that it is explicitly stated that one of the three criteria for a handball is that the player “deliberately” handles the ball. Gimnasia forward Ramiro Carrera evidently shared his sentiments and received a red card for his complaints. And from that moment, the result felt pretty much inevitable.
Tevez clearly wasn’t affected by the insults being hurled his way on the pitch and from the commentary box, and continued to terrorize the Gimnasia defense, linking up with Benedetto again for the second goal just minutes later (3:45 in video). Slicing open the opposition with a delicate outside-of-the-boot through-ball, Tevez found Benedetto, who again found the net with a cool finish past Arias (5:18 in video). And it wasn’t long before Boca had its third. This time, it was a wonderful individual effort from the man on the left of Boca’s attacking quartet Cristian Pavón. The winger received the ball from left-back Fabra thirty yards from goal and let fly an absolute thunderbolt that Arias had absolutely no chance of stopping.
With three goals, a red card and no shortage of controversy in the space of just nine minutes, the game was settled at half-time. It felt remarkably similar to the eventful 12-minute period in Boca’s fixture last week against Rosario Central. But that time, Boca was at the receiving end of the controversial decisions and decisive goals just before half time. And then, we were saying that last week’s game was strangely reflective of the controversial Copa Argentina final a year before. Swings and roundabouts. Over and over again.