We’ve already established the Copa Libertadores is a haven for insane atmospheres. It is also home to beautiful moments of insanity like these. Good luck replicating this with all of your money and spit-polish, UCL.
There’s beauty everywhere in South America this time of year. River Plate, one of Buenos Aires’ two Big Clubs, featured a sparkling light show put on by its fans moments before being upset by an unheralded club from Ecuador in the Round of 16.
Well. Something happened again. And this time it was Boca Juniors, the city’s other Big Club, doing mad things to snatch our attention by the scruff of its neck.
Boca dropped Cerro Porteño, Paraguay’s megaclub, in the first knockout round before coming to blows with three-time Copa Libertadores champion Nacional, from Uruguay, in the Round of 8. The tie was bitterly fought, and Boca looked to be on the ropes late on in the second leg. Trailing 2-1 on aggregate, Boca got a 70th minute goal from Cristian Pavón – just his second ever for the club – to send the knotted two-legged adventure to extra time.
And then, penalties.
Copa Lib penalty sessions have this fraught sense of madness about them, as though the whole of humanity hangs on each moment and each kick is its own self-contained universe. It’s the biggest club competition on arguably the most frantically supported continent on the planet. What else to expect?
And so Boca and Nacional went down into this boiling cauldron together. And they did not disappoint.