Wednesday, 24 December 2008

Argentina: Boca Take Apertura Crown Despite Defeat

Boca Juniors were crowned Argentine Apertura 2008 champions on Tuesday night, despite going down to a 1-0 defeat at the hands of Tigre.

As the three-team playoff for the Apertura came to its conclusion, Tigre knew that they needed to win by two clear goals to overhaul a Riquelme-less Boca and take the title, with San Lorenzo already out of running.

Diego Cagna's team gave it their best shot and took the lead with just over twenty minutes remaining after a terrible mistake from Boca goalkeeper Javier Garcia allowed Leandro Lazzaro to profit.

Garcia had also been at fault from San Lorenzo's goal at the weekend, and was promptly substituted by Boca coach Carlos Ischia, who was clearly keen to avoid the young goalkeeper costing his side the title.

Despite concerted pressure from Tigre in the remaining minutes, and the late sending off of Rodrigo Palacio, Boca were able to hang on, taking the Apertura crown on goal difference to record their 23rd Argentine championship.

"We put in a lot of effort in these last six months, and we have to enjoy it. We worked hard today, like we have all year round, but it was worth it to reach our objective," midfielder Sebastian Battaglia told reporters after the game.

The title triumph comes at the end of a difficult campaign for Boca, who have had to deal with the death of their president Pedro Pompilio and a number of injuries to key players.

"It was a horrible season for us," experienced full-back Hugo Ibarra noted.

"We experienced a lot of injuries, as well as the death of Pedro. We dedicate this championship to his family and memory."

The title represents coach Carlos Ischia's first in charge of Boca, and he looks set to be rewarded with a new contract, according to reports in the Argentine press. He will, however, have Carlos Bianchi - Boca's most successful coach - placed above him in a technical director role in time for the 2009 Clausura.

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