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Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 13 December 2018

Copa Libertadores final: Boca Juniors and River Plate share four-goal thriller in first leg

Return fiture takes place at River's Monumental stadium on November 24, with the winner set to come to the UAE for the Fifa Club World Cup

River Platre players celebrate after Boca Juniors' Carlos Izquierdoz, left, scored an own goal to leave the Copa Libertadores final tied at 2-2. AFP
River Platre players celebrate after Boca Juniors' Carlos Izquierdoz, left, scored an own goal to leave the Copa Libertadores final tied at 2-2. AFP

Boca Juniors and River Plate played out a thrilling 2-2 draw on Sunday in the first leg of their Copa Libertadores final that took place a day later than scheduled due to heavy rain in Argentina.

The first Libertadores final between Argentina's two biggest clubs was an end-to-end affair worthy of the occasion.

Boca went ahead after 34 minutes when Ramon Abila followed up his own blocked drive with a ferocious shot that keeper Franco Armani got a hand to but could not stop.

Their lead lasted less than two minutes as Lucas Pratto controlled a through ball before firing in an angled drive past Agustin Rossi from 12 metres out.

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Read more:

Copa Libertadores final: Boca v River 'Hiperclásico' has Buenos Aires on edge

Copa Libertadores: Five of the greatest Boca Juniors and River Plate players

Carlos Salcido: Guadalajara captain targets 'dream' clash with Real Madrid at Fifa Club World Cup

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The goals sparked the game into life and although River looked the more dangerous, it was Boca who again went ahead seconds before halftime. Dario Benedetto, who had come on to replace the injured Cristian Pavon, headed home a free-kick lofted hopefully into the box.

The second half started at the same pace and River drew level in the 61st minute thanks to an own goal by Carlos Izquierdoz.

The visitors punted another long free kick into the box and Izquierdoz, under pressure from Pratto, glanced the ball past his own keeper.

Benedetto had a superb chance to win the game in the final minute but his point-blank shot was well saved by Armani.

The second leg of the final, South America's equivalent of the Champions League, will take place at River's Monumental stadium on November 24.

"It was the game that everyone expected, tough with lots of fight," said River Plate defender Javier Pinola. "Small details could have led to a win but we fought hard and a draw was the fair result."

With away fans banned from derby games in Argentina because of violence, Boca, who won the last of their six titles in 2007, played the match in front of their own fans in a sold out Bombonera stadium.

River were also hindered by the absence of their coach Marcelo Gallardo from the stadium, who was banned for disobeying a suspension during the semi-final win over holders Gremio.

The winner will represent Conmebol at the Fifa Club World Cup in the UAE next month.

Uefa Champions League winners Real Madrid will once again be representing Europe and will be aiming to win a third successive Club World Cup title.

The Spanish giants will be joined in the Emirates by Japanese side Kashima Antlers, who on Saturday night clinched their place after winning the Asian Champions League.

Esperance of Tunisia are also recent additions having overturned a first-leg deficit against Egyptian club Al Ahly to win the CAF Champions League.

Mexico's Guadalajara have long since confirmed their place at the Club World Cup after winning the Concacaf Champions League in April, while Team Wellington of New Zealand were crowned OFC Champions League winners in May.

UAE champions Al Ain complete the line-up as the host nation representatives.