Boca Juniors will contest the 2023 Copa Libertadores final after overcoming Palmeiras on penalties.
Jorge Almirón’s side were indebted to former Manchester United goalkeeper Sergio Romero who produced two saves in the shootout as Boca ran out 4-2 winners.
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“I’m 36 years old – an age when I like to have fun, and for me penalties are fun,” he said afterwards.
Edinson Cavani, another former Red Devil, gave the Blue and Gold a first-half lead but, after defender Marcos Rojo — also familiar to Man Utd supporters — was sent off, Joaquin Piquerez equalised for the hosts.
The first leg in Buenos Aires had ended goalless. Success means Boca will return to Brazil to square off against Fluminense in the November 4 final at Maracana Stadium.
Players you had no idea were playing the upcoming Copa Libertadores final
Fluminense outlasted Argentinos Juniors, Olimpia and Internacional to reach a second-ever Copa Libertadores final with their first coming in 2008 when LDU Quito ultimately beat them 3-1 on penalties.
Fernando Diniz, also the current interim Brazil national team manager, can also call upon a number of experienced campaigners. Among them is the decorated Brazilian left-back Marcelo who is seeking to join the exclusive club of Champions League-Copa Libertadores winners. During an illustrious 15-year spell with Real Madrid he lifted the European Cup on no fewer than five occasions.
Felipe Melo though is a former Copa Libertadores winner. He was part of Palmeiras’ back-to-back winning teams. His only silverware in Europe came while representing Galatasaray where he celebrated three Süper Lig titles.
The same cannot be said for Ganso who never truly fulfilled his promise. Starring alongside Neymar, the native of Ananindeua was part of that exciting Santos side a decade ago, it never happened for him at Sevilla or Amiens and since then he’s been credibly plying his trade for Fluminense.
It will be the club’s record-extending 12th final appearance with only Uruguayan side Peñarol the other to reach double figures (10).
This latest run is pretty unique as Boca has yet to win a single game in the knockout phase. In the round of 16, they drew both matches Nacional (0-0 and 2-2) before winning 4-2 on penalties. The same again in the quarter-finals against Racing (0-0 and 0-0) with them succession 4-1 in the shootout.
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— Boca Juniors (@BocaJrsOficial) October 6, 2023
“It was not an easy instance,” Almirón said afterwards. “The rival is worthy of a Copa Libertadores semi-final. We are all very happy. For the players and coaching staff it was always the first objective to reach this final. Thanks to the team, to The players, we have the same obsession as the people.”
Boca will now seek to with a seventh Copa Libertadores which equals Independiente’s tournament record.
“I tell the fan to trust, like we do,” Romero added. “We are going to go for everything and we have one more step left. We feel the positive energy of the people, their desire to win the seventh. Together we are going to achieve the objective, in Rio half of the field is going to be ours.”