Life imitates art. Not too good art, though.
Imagine the most ridiculously over-the-top cliche movie about sports. Here are some of the ingredients, and how last night´s match between Boca and River compares in a 1/10 scale.
A bitter rivalry
9 This is a century-old rivalry, between teams from the same city, who happen to be the most successful and popular teams in the country.
Trust me, this is serious stuff. So serious, that for security reasons, it was the first time ever in argentine football history that the visiting team´s fans were forbidden from attending the match.
It must be an important match
9 It was a do-or-die affair, it being eliminatory home-and-away, but it was only the semifinal of the most important club tournament possible for them, the Libertadores Cup (S.Am. equivalent of the Champions League).
It would have been better for this to be the final, but there has never been a same-country final in this tournament (that I know), so this was as good as it gets.
A clear favourite
5 The first match (at Boca´s home) was won by Boca 1-0, but River could have won 2-1 or so, had they been even slightly lucky (Boca´s coach is recognized as the luckiest man on earth by some).
River had kicked Boca´s butt all over the field a few weeks ago, playing ten times better, but...
Boca has River´s number, and has had it for ten years or so. Boca has won close, and has won clear, has won at home and away, has won in local, international and friendly matches, has won deservingly and has won by sheer luck. But they have won almost everything for 5 or 6 years, including three of these cups, and two Intercontinental cups against the Champions League winner, so... noone was going to say River was a clear favourite. At all.
A hostile environment
9 The largest hostile crowd in argentine football history. 66000 chanting, bloodthirsty River fans. And in the middle of it, about 20 Boca players, coaches and assistants. Scary stuff.
It wasn´t Brazil-Uruguay in 1950, but then again, there has never been anything like Brazil-Uruguay in 1950 (and never could be again).
9 Boca came 1-0 ahead. River scored, evening the aggregate.
Boca player ejected. Things look grim for them.
Then River lost two players in the same play (one ejected, one injured, no replacements available).
In the 89th minute, Boca scores. They are now ahead.
In the 94th minute(!) River scores, all even. Penalties.
The first 8 penalties are scored. It comes down to the last penalty for each team. The river player misses! It all is now in the hands of a single player, and a single kick. Which brings us to...
The unlikely hero
9 The guy is 21. He is not even a regular substitute, but all the regular penalty shooters are for some reason unable to take them, they have been ejected, or replaced, or injured.
So, he takes it, he scores, Boca wins, and 66000 looks as if someone has played a evil trick with their guts.
Man, I love this game.