River Plate won the Copa Libertadores by beating their fiercest rivals Boca Juniors 3-1 after extra time on Sunday to bring an end to a final tainted by violence and moved more than six thousand miles away from Argentina.
It means River prevailed 5-3 on aggregate after the first leg finished 2-2 and reclaim the trophy they had last won in 2015, lifting it for the fourth time in their history.
The game was postponed on three occasions and then relocated from Buenos Aires to Madrid where Lionel Messi, Antoine Griezmann and Diego Godin were among the 62 200 in attendance.
There was no repeat of the scenes that cast a shadow over Argentinian football and saw the original game at River’s El Monumental on November 24 postponed, when around 50 fans attacked Boca’s team bus and left some of their players injured.
The game lacked quality but came alive one minute before halftime. Nahitan Nandez’s superb pass split two River defenders and Benedetto kept a cool head, guiding into the corner to send their fans into raptures.
River’s first real attacking move was also a brilliant one as Leonardo Ponzio and Juan Quintero exchanged passes before the latter pulled back for Lucas Pratto to sweep home.
The game petered out to fulltime and seemed destined for penalties until Wilmar Barrios was shown a second yellow card for a tackle on Exequiel Palacios and soon after, Quintero struck with a shot from 25 yards that went in off the underside of the crossbar.
Leonard Jara almost snatched alate Boca goal but his shot nicked the outside of the post. Then, with Boca’s goalkeeper Esteban Andrada up for a corner, River put the final nail in the coffin as Martinez ran the ball into the empty net to spark wild celebrations.