Dario Benedetto felt a weight lift after scoring his first goal for Boca Juniors since returning from a lengthy spell on the sidelines.
Argentina international Benedetto was on target for the first time since November 2017, having ruptured the anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee and suffered from Achilles tendinitis and a hamstring issue since returning to contention in August.
The 28-year-old came off the bench in the first leg of the Copa Libertadores semi-final against Palmeiras at La Bombonera and scored twice in the space of five minutes to give Boca a 2-0 win, netting a header and a brilliant 20-yard strike into the bottom-left corner after a phenomenal turn.
“It was hard for me to score again. It wasn’t going right for me. I am happy to return in a moment as important as a semi-final,” said Benedetto.
“I’ve been working after many setbacks – I still have tendinitis, the strain. Those blows can crush you, but then this can also happen.
“I liked the second goal a lot because of the touch, but I prefer the first. It was a relief for me to score again after so long, more so in a semi-final.”
— Boca Jrs. Oficial (@BocaJrsOficial) October 25, 2018
Boca coach Guillermo Barros Schelotto refused to take credit for Benedetto’s impact after introducing him for Ramon Abila in the 77th minute, instead highlighting the effort made by the striker to make a successful comeback.
“He’s back from injury. He had a muscle injury in his recovery and started from zero,” said Barros Schelotto.
“An injury delayed everything, but he made his mark on the pitch. He deserves all the credit. He’s a star.”
Despite possessing a 2-0 aggregate advantage, Barros Schelotto warned his team against stepping off the gas when they visit Allianz Parque next week.
He said: “It will be a really hard game, it will not be easy, we need to play with the same attitude, showing the same football, and we need to be dominant there.
“It doesn’t matter if the game is in our stadium or in Palmeiras’, we need to overcome our rivals.
“They proved to be strong throughout the tournament, showing a really good mentality and an impressive physical strength, and it will be hard. It will not be easy. There is nothing defined yet.”
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