The La Plata Clásico last night devolved from fútbol game to boxing match and then finally was called off as players began to full out brawl during stoppage time. Notorious hometown rivals
the sharks and the jets Estudiantes and Gimnasia met for an ahem “friendly” in Mar del Plata and decided they were not to be outdone by last week’s team wide throwdown of Porteño rivals Boca and River Plate. After gaining the lead early on with a goal in the 16th minute, Estudiantes apparently resolved to just go ahead and keep that lead at any cost. And I mean any.
Thus the match turned nasty well before the brawl broke out; by the time the game reached the 90th minute Estudiantes was playing with nine men after Álvaro Periera and Enrique Bologna were sent off with red cards. Just to acclimate you to the level of violence, Periera roundhouse kicked Gimnasia player Facundo Oreja at the beginning of the second half. He stumbled about the pitch in a daze until an ambulance carted him off.
So tensions were at a high when they reached stoppage time with Gimnasia down by just one goal. Here’s the blow-by-blow (literally): Gimnasia player Antonio Medina was on a fast break when defender Santiago Ascacibar egregiously slide tackled him, extinguishing the team’s last hope of a tie. Both teams raced off the bench and flooded the field, generally sneering at each other until goalkeeper Mariano Andújar threw a punch. He was tackled to the ground and beaten about the head. As one does in a game of Fight Club. Oh no wait. FOOTBALL. THIS IS A GAME OF FOOTBALL. Adjust your outrage accordingly.
Both teams almost refused to shake hands before going to the locker room, reasoning that no one did after the food fight in Hook either and growing up is for phonies, before acquiescing to the
exasperated mom’s referee’s request.
In less than 24 hours, the match has already gained worldwide fame, receiving coverage from major sports outlets abroad. Estudiantes team manager Nelson Vivas has shown a bit of contrition, conceding that the players’ behavior was “deplorable” and that “the referee can be wrong but the ones who made mistakes were the two teams.” No kidding.
Meanwhile, back in Madrid, Cristiano Ronaldo has already called his agent with a request to transfer to Mar del Plata.