Boca Juniors players celebrate with their trophy in San Juan, Argentina. AP
Gulf Today Report
Boca Juniors emerged winners at Argentina's inaugural Diego Armando Maradona Cup.
They defeated Banfield 5-3 in a shootout on Sunday after their rivals had scored deep in stoppage time to level the match at 1-1.
The tournament, which was renamed to honour the Argentine great after he passed away in November, kicked off in October as football returned following a seven-month hiatus due to the novel coronavirus pandemic.
A rock band comprising former professional footballers played live on the pitch before kick-off and the stadium was lit up with fireworks and a light show featuring images and quotes from the charismatic former Boca Juniors striker.
“This cup is a tribute to Diego, and he’ll surely be accompanying our celebrations,” Boca’s Ramon Abila said after the game.
After a tepid first 45 minutes at the San Juan del Bicentenario stadium, Boca took the lead with a spectacular strike from Edwin Carmona 19 minutes into the second half.
However, Luciano Lollo equalised in the sixth minute of stoppage time for Banfield, just moments after Boca had Emmanuel Mas sent off.
Boca, who last recorded a victory on Dec. 27, converted all five of their spot kicks while Jorge Rodriguez missed for Banfield.
Boca’s Cup win came after a disappointing midweek defeat to Santos saw them knocked out of the Copa Libertadores, the South American equivalent of the Champions League, at the semi-final stage.
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Messi, who was named the best player in the tournament, also saluted Maradona, who died at the age of 60, last November, noting that, "Diego was definitely supporting us wherever he was."
The city of Kolkata, which the legend visited twice (in 2008 and 2017), will feel especially sharp pangs of pain at the passing away of a man who they embraced as their own.
British newspapers spoke of humiliation and extermination; Where the newspaper "Daily Star" titled: "Men against boys," and quoted the words of the former star of the team, Gary Neville: "This was extermination," after they conceded 4 goals in 35 minutes.
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