Argentina · Oceania

Phoenix 2 – Boca 1

Click here for video highlights of the match (skysport.co.nz)

In a blustery, cold and rainy evening in Wellington (OK, that’s a bit redundant, all Wellington evenings are like that, even in summer), a Boca Juniors side made up of a mixture of reserves and new signings never managed to find much consistency or flair on the pitch.

They were shocked to concede a goal in the 24th minute to forward Dylan MacAllister and another again in the 60th minute to a header by central defender Andrew Durante. Brazilian midfielder Daniel sent in a free kick from the right and Durante was unchallenged, heading the ball between Garcia and the right post.

On the first goal, midfielder Leo Bertos dribbled around Jesús Méndez and passed the ball in to Chris Greenacre in the penalty box. He crossed it to MacAllister who pushed it past the diving Javier García for a goal. Though the Phoenix offered little more that long crosses by Leo Bertos from the right and Paul Ifill on the left, the first ball played into the box to a forward’s feet ended up in the back of the net.

Boca were lucky to get a goal after a a run by substitute Orlando Lugo (on for Marcelo Cañete) resulted in a pass to the middle that got caught in the feet of Durante, who unwittingly lifted it into a corner of Mark Paston’s net.

Cañete made a couple of winding runs in the first half without finding the net. One of them was past 3 defenders, leaving him one-on-one with goalkeeper Paston, but the Boca playmaker pushed it wide left. Boca’s starting forwards, Lucas Viatri and Pablo Mouche hardly troubled the Phoenix and All Whites goalkeeper, due mostly to a total lack of service from the Boca midfield. His only save of the first half coming near the end of the first half, from a free kick by Mouche.

Boca’s new three-man back line – Cristian Cellay, Juan Manuel Insaurralde and Matías Caruzzo – are just learning to play with each other and only the Phoenix’s early lack of speed and creativity can be blamed for the lack of chances on goal against Garcia. As the kiwi team gained in confidence in the second half, they began to make the Boca defence look a bit silly and had several chances to score a 3rd goal.

Further complicating Boca, the action was a little less than friendly There was more than a bit of pushing and shoving in the match, which, given the temperature, likely didn’t help Boca find their comfort zone. Regardless of that, the first two yellows went to Boca players: Cellay and Viatri. Mendez also was booked, as was Insaurralde, both of whom got into shoving matches with Phoenix players.

In the second half, the Phoenix introduced Brazilian midfielder Daniel and new Argentine signing Roberto “Toto” Cornejo, a San Lorenzo product most recently seen with Nueva Chicago and kept up the pressure on the Boca defence. Boca tried slowly to recover posession but could not manage to put together meaningful chances.

The game devolved into yet another shoving match in the 72nd minute involving most players in both teams after Cellay and Ifill got into an argument, resulting in the Boca captain getting a second yellow and being sent off.

Lugo’s introduction with 10 minutes to go gave Boca it’s most productive period of the match, in terms of chance, but aside from causing the own goal, he never really got close enough to grabbing an equaliser.

Bichi Borghi had better hope that this poor showing was the result of long travel and bad weather. Granted, with the addition of Martin Palermo, Sebastian Battaglia and Cristian Luccheti, Boca will be in much better shape, but getting the new defence to gel in going to be a top priority for the former Argentinos manager.

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