Boca Juniors recorded an impressive 2-0 victory at home to Universidad de Chile in the first leg of the Copa Libertadores semi-final.
Santiago Silva and Juan Sanchez Mino were both on target as the Argentines took a decisive advantage in the tie, while Universidad’s much-vaunted attacking prowess was ineffective against Boca’s impeccable backline.
The teams came out into a packed Bombonera with the pitch barely visible through the haze of a balmy winter’s evening in Buenos Aires. The pre-match festivities did not help as Boca fans set off hundreds of fireworks in a raucous semi-final reception, meaning kick-off was delayed for several minutes while the match officials waited for the smoke to clear.
Once play began, Universidad demonstrated that they had no intention of playing for a draw away from home. Jorge Sampaoli’s men looked to get forward whenever possible, but it was Boca who threatened first when Silva fired past the post with a fierce left-footed effort.
Walter Erviti also went close in the opening exchanges, but the home fans did not have to wait long for their team to push into the lead.
Pablo Mouche made space for himself down the right with his pace, and his cross was met by Silva who, given time to turn by momentarily lax marking, smashed the ball past Jonny Herrera to send the Boca fans into raptures.
Universidad found it frustrating as the formidable Boca backline refused to give the Chileans a moment’s respite. Marcelo Diaz had perhaps the best of Universidad’s few chances in the first 45 minutes, but his sweetly-struck free-kick was parried away by Agustin Orion and Boca took a slim lead into the half-time break.
Silva had a golden chance to add a second just one minute into the second half, but Herrera pulled off an astonishing save at full stretch to keep the deficit at one.
The second goal did arrive not much later though. Herrera did well to parry Erviti’s effort away but he could do nothing to stop Mino, who blasted the rebound home to the delight of his team-mates.
There was another pause in play as more smoke reduced pitch visibility to unacceptable levels. Both Juan Roman Riquelme and Rolando Schiavi went to the terraces and pleaded with fans to stop lighting flares and fireworks.
It was business as usual when play resumed though. A tantalising cross from Mouche almost found Erviti, whose despairing dive only got enough on the ball to divert it behind for a goal kick.
The withdrawal of Matias Rodriguez afforded Universidad a little more stability and balance across the pitch, but they continued to founder against a Boca defence marshalled by Schiavi and a brilliant performance on the right from Facundo Roncaglia.
Orion was barely tested in the Boca net, as they cruised through the final minutes to record the victory.
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