Romarinho's 85th minute equaliser cancelled out Facundo Roncaglia's earlier goal as Corinthians snatch a late leveler in the first leg of the Copa Libertadores final
Romarinho’s late goal snatched an equaliser for Corinthians at La Bombonera to leave both sides with it all to play for next week in the second leg of the Copa Libertadores final. Boca Juniors were the more adventurous of the two sides throughout the match and deservedly took the lead through Facundo Roncaglia late in the second half. However, Romarinho stunned the home crowd scoring a well-taken goal with just five minutes to play.
Santiago Silva’s blocked overhead kick in the first half was the game’s best opening, in a match of very few clear-cut chances, until Roncaglia finally broke the deadlock. Boca consistently looked to press forwards and take the game to their Brazilian rivals, however, were caught out in the final few minutes by Romarinho’s dramatic equaliser.
Under an electrifying atmosphere in La Bombonera, Rolando Schiavi almost grabbed an early lead within the first 70 seconds when he headed over from a Juan Roman Riquelme free kick. Moments later, Corinthians’ Paulinho also went close from a long drive. The sought-after midfielder broke from midfield and hit a rasping drive from 30-yards bringing a wonderful two-handed save from Agustin Orion in the Boca net.
Boca looked dominant but they were not potent enough during their spell of pressure. Santiago Silva’s acrobatic overhead kick was blocked on the goal line by Leandro Caston following good work from Pablo Mouche on the right wing as the Xeneizes looked to take the initiative, yet both sides went into the break even.
The home side returned from the interval and began to test Cassio Ramos’ goal. Initially Riquelme blazed over the bar from the edge of the box and then Pablo Mouche failed to take his chance, when slipped in by Riquelme, as he shot straight at the Corinthians stopper.
Finally, with just fifteen minutes left to play, Boca Juniors broke the deadlock and deservedly took the lead. Pablo Mouche’s corner was swung to the back post before being headed back towards goal by Matias Caruzzo. Santiago Silva redirected the header towards goal before Facundo Roncaglia tapped in at the far post as the ball rebounded back off the post. Replayed showed Chicao had handled the ball on the goal line, however the goal stood.
Following the goal, Corinthians began to press men forward for the first time in the match in search of an equaliser. With less than five minutes to play, 21-year-old Romarinho grabbed a late goal to draw the tie level. Paulinho played the ball forward from midfield to Emerson, who turned smartly before laying the ball through to Romarinho inside the box to calmly clip the ball over the grounded Orion with his first ever touch in the Copa Libertadores.
There was still time for more drama as Boca hit the crossbar in stoppage time. Clemente’s lofted cross landed at the back post and Lucas Viatri struck a thunderous header against the woodwork. As the ball rebounded off the post, substitute Dario Cvitanich was unable to correct his footing as the ball bobbled wide.
Corinthians will be the happier of the two sides to return to Sao Paulo with the scores still level. Julio Falcioni will undoubtedly feel hard done by following his team’s dominance throughout the match. The two sides will play out the second leg of the final at the Pacaembu next Wednesday.