Stoppage Time – International Football Blog

Argentina: Boca Juniors reacquaint themselves with title winning ways (video)

Posted in South America Football by peterbein on December 5, 2011

After a three year drought, Boca Juniors finally claimed the Argentinian title following last night’s 3-0 win at home to CA Banfield in the Torneo Apertura (Opening Championship). Boca only needed one point to be sure of the title but sealed the deal with a win in front of their loyal followers at the Bombonera stadium in Buenos Aires and begin the celebrations with two rounds of matches still to be played in the first half of the Argentinian season.

Dario Cvitanivich bagged a brace in the first half with Diego Rivero grabbing Boca’s third just sixty seconds into the second half which left the rest of the game to be enjoyed as a title winning party for fans of Los Xeneixes. The celebrations were all the more joyous given that nobody expected Boca to win the title this season especially given the difficulties they had suffered in recent years. With relegation matters determined by a three year averages system Boca were far from safe at the start of the 2011-12 campaign with the club lying in 15th place in the relegation table before a ball was kicked in anger. With Boca’s arch rivals River Plate having faced the drop for the first time in their history last season, thoughts were more centred on staying safe rather than lifting silverware.

However Boca have turned their fortunes around in great style. After 17 of the scheduled 19 games of the Apertura, Boca still remain unbeaten with a record of eleven wins and six draws. Boca have scored 22 goals so far, the best in the league, but it is their defence which has significantly improved having only let in a measly four goals in this campaign. If they keep that up then they could be the first team to win both Apertura and Clausura championships since they themselves did it as recently as six years ago. This may not be so far fetched with their relegation worries now relieved, the club having lifted themselves to a very healthy sixth place in the averages table. For now it is the immediate present that concerns Boca and the league title, their 24th in the professional era, is now something that their fans can enjoy for themselves as opposed to celebrating the misfortune of their rivals.

Argentina: Maidana wins it for River; League Review (+video)

Posted in South America Football by peterbein on November 17, 2010

Jonathan Maidana’s crucial header in the 53rd minute of the match won the latest Superclásico for River Plate against arch-rivals Boca Juniors on Tuesday. The win helped River Plate out of a bad recent spell and took los Millionarios up to eighth place in the latest Apertura standings. However the main excitement in the championship does not concern the Big Two as they are both well off the pace in the title race. With five rounds of matches to go in the first championship of the season Vélez Sársfield and Estudiantes de La Plata share the lead with thirty points each from 14 games, five points ahead of nearest challengers Arsenal de Sarandi.

Both Vélez Sársfield and Estudiantes have experienced championship success in recent years. Vélez won the 2009 Clausura title following a last-day showdown with their title rivals Huracán in which the latter gained much sympathy from neutral supporters following the way they lost the title in controversial circumstances. Estudiantes last won the Apertura in 2006 when, having finished on equal points with Boca Juniors, won a title play-off 2-1. They came close to winning the Clausura in 2010 but could only finish runners-up to eventual winners Argentinos Juniors by a single point. Now both teams have ambitions of lifting more silverware and consolidating their recent success making the most of the current situation in which River and Boca have been conspicuous by their absence in relation to the championship chase. On Matchday 14 Vélez won their fixture at home to CA Lanús by a single goal to nil thanks to Ricardo Alvarez’s 59th minute strike whilst Estudiantes slipped up losing 2-1 to CA Tigre. With five matches to go it is clear to see that there are still some potential twists to come in the championship race.

Despite the absence of the traditional two biggest clubs from the title race the Superclásico still retains its billing as the most anticipated fixture in the domestic game. River Plate hadn’t won any of these games for three years before last night but they finally chalked up a win over their eternal rivals after Jonathan Maidana’s perfectly timed header early in the second half was all that could separate the teams.


Banfield secure maiden title in Argentina

Posted in South America Football by peterbein on December 14, 2009

Argentina’s football championship has come up with a few surprise champions in the last few years (e.g. Estudiantes in 2006, Lanus in 2008) but the latest champion Banfield are probably the biggest surprise of them all. On the final game of Argentina’s “Apertura” (Opening) Championship they were defeated 2-0 away at Boca Juniors but this turned out not to be so tragic as, at the same time, their nearest title challengers Newell’s Old Boys were succumbing to the same scoreline at home to San Lorenzo.

On a dramatic final day in the “Apertura” (not to be confused with the “Clausura” or “Closing” championship that makes up the second half of the season) Banfield went to cross city rivals Boca knowing that a win would make them champion and a draw would at least guarantee a play-off for the title in the event of a Newell’s win in Rosario (in Argentina play-offs decide the destination of the title in the event of a tie on points between two or more teams). If Banfield lost then a Newell’s win would mean the championship going back to Rosario since their last title win in 2004.

After six minutes of the first half there were cheers around Boca’s home stadium, La Bombonera, when Banfield fans heard the news that Newell’s were 1-0 down thanks to a goal from San Lorenzo’s Fabian Bordagaray. At almost that exact moment Boca won a penalty kick which Martin Palermo dispatched with great aplomb to make it 1-0 and to stun the legions of Green and White fans who had been cheering only seconds earlier. Both games ended 1-0 at half-time and the second half would progressively get more nervous for the title contenders.

Sixteen minutes into the second half at La Bombonera saw Boca Juniors double their lead thanks to a close range strike from Martin Palermo. This goal had the fans of Banfield holding their heads in their hands in disbelief. Were their title chances going up in smoke before them? Thankfully, for Banfield, they heard more cheers nearly ten minutes later after news filtered through of a second goal for San Lorenzo. Fabian Bordagaray, like Martin Palermo, had scored his second goal of the afternoon and would become a hero for Banfield fans everywhere. This news allowed both Boca and Banfield to take their foot off the gas and see out the game. Whilst those Banfield fans lucky enough to get a ticket were getting the party started at La Bombonera there were even bigger celebrations at Banfield’s home stadium where thousands of supporters had been let in to the stadium to watch the game on a big screen.

With both games finishing in 2-0 defeats for the title contenders it was Banfield that secured the title, the very first league championship success in the club’s history, with 41 points from 19 games, Newell’s Old Boys two behind on 39 whilst Colón Santa Fe, Independiente and Velez Sarsfield all had 34 points. Banfield qualify for the 2010 Copa Libertadores along with the 2009 Clausura champions Velez, the reigning Libertadores champions Estudiantes de la Plata and the three teams who had the best points average in the Clausura and Apertura tournaments in 2009 (Lanus, Colón and Newell’s). Relegation matters will be decided after the conclusion of the 2010 Clausura championship.