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Sunday, June 20, 2004 

River Plate 2-1 Boca Juniors (4-5 on penalties)

Boca Juniors and River Plate battled on Thursday evening at El Monumental de Núñez in their second leg of their semifinal tie. The first half didn't produce any goals, but it did pave the way for an intense second half. Luis "Lucho" Gonzalez was giving the Boca defense fits, got into some open space at the start of the second half. Fabian Vargas ran to prevent Lucho from entering the Boca penalty area and he dragged Lucho to the ground. For his efforts, Vargas was given his second yellow card and sent off. That was tonic that River needed. Four minutes later, Lucho made a similar run to the left side of the Boca box, but this time he launched a rocket that was only stopped by the net for a 1-0 lead.

River kept searching for the go ahead aggregate score, as the 70,000 fans of El Monumental were screaming to the top of their lungs and urging Los Millonarios. Unfortunate news took place for River, as in the 84th minute Rubens Sambueza was sent off for mouth off to the referee and Ricardo Rojas was injured. The man advantage that River enjoyed was gone, as Los Millonarios used their allotment of three substitutes and now were left with 9 men on the pitch. El Xeneize (Phoenix) went to work and four minutes later when Franco Cangele sent a cross into the River area and Carlos Tevez scored. Tevez acted very unprofessional in his celebration and was sent off for excessive celebrating again giving River a man advantage. River didn't have much time to work with and after 4 minutes of second half injury time Cristian Nasuti scored off a brilliantly taken set piece by River. River held on for the win in regulation.

With the aggregate score even at two goals apiece the tie went to a penalty shootout, because in the Libertadores the away goal rule does not apply. For both teams, each made their first 4 opportunities. Then on River's fifth chance, Roberto Abbondanzieri denied Maxi Lopez. Then Javier Villarreal showed Boca the way to the finals, by converting his effort from the spot. Now El Xeneize will face Once Caldas in the finals. The first match will be on June 23rd at La Bombonera. The final tie will be on July 1st in the Estadio Palogrande of Manizales, Colombia.

RIVER PLATE: Germán Lux; Horacio Ameli, Cristian Nasuti, Ricardo Rojas; Eduardo Coudet, Javier Mascherano, Claudio Husain, Luis González; Daniel Montenegro; Fernando Cavenaghi, Maximiliano López.

BOCA JUNIORS: Roberto Abbondanzieri; Luis Perea, Rolando Schiavi, Nicolás Burdisso, Clemente Rodríguez; Pablo Ledesma, Javier Villarreal, Fabián Vargas, Diego Cagna; Guillermo Barros Schelotto, Carlos Tevez.

GOAL: 1-0, Luis Gonzalez (49'); 1-1, Carlos Tevez (88'); 2-1, Cristian Nasuti (90')

Source: soccerage.com; cariverplate.com.ar

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