Argentina archrivals Boca Juniors and River Plate will stage this year's final of the prestigious Copa Libertadores.

By Associated Press
October 31, 2018

SAO PAULO (AP) — For the first time, the Copa Libertadores final is an all-Argentine affair.

And it couldn’t be bigger.

Archrivals Boca Juniors and River Plate will play for the title this month in Buenos Aires.

Boca completed the matchup on Wednesday after drawing at Palmeiras in Brazil 2-2. The most popular club in Argentina won the first leg 2-0.

River reached the final on Tuesday after beating defending champion Gremio of Brazil 2-1 for a 2-2 aggregate. River advanced on on the away goals rule.

“Now it is 50-50 of winning the trophy,” Boca striker Ramon Abila said. “There is no favorite, this will be a Superclasico like no other.”

The finals of the Copa Libertadores are scheduled for Nov. 10 and 24.

The first leg will be at Boca’s La Bombonera, and the second at River’s Monumental de Nunez.

Boca has a shot at tying Independiente’s record of seven titles.

River will be going for its fourth South American crown, the last in 2015.

Boca damaged Palmeiras’ hopes on Wednesday after 18 minutes, when Ramon Abila netted an easy finish in front of goalkeeper Weverton after a low cross from Villa. That forced the Brazilian side to win by three goals to qualify.

Palmeiras leveled after halftime through Luan, and raised hopes when Gustavo Gomes converted a penalty eight minutes later.

But 10 minutes later, Dario Benedetto came off the bench again and scored again to snuff out Palmeiras’ comeback. The striker scored both Boca goals at La Bombonera in the first leg.

Palmeiras coach Luiz Felipe Scolari complimented Boca: “I liked Boca’s teamwork very much.”

Palmeiras’ loss is ironic. Reserves of the Brazilian side beat Colombia’s Junior Barranquilla 3-1 in May, allowing Boca to advance as runner-up in Group 8. Scolari wasn’t in charge then. With an impeccable knockout stage, the Argentine side has made it to the final.

“Being eliminated now is part of the game,” Scolari said.

Boca and River met three times previously in the Copa Libertadores. Boca won their 2000 quarterfinal 4-2 on aggregate, Boca won their 2004 semifinal on a penalty shootout, and River won their 2015 round-of-16 match 1-0 after CONMEBOL eliminated Boca due to pepper gas spread by its fans in the second leg.

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