BUENOS AIRES – A late strike from veteran forward Carlos Tevez helped Buenos Aires soccer club Boca Juniors clinch its 34th Superliga title on Saturday by beating Gimnasia 1-0 at the Bombonera stadium, a victory which led to ecstatic fans spilling out on the streets of the Argentine capital late at night.
Boca, which had been trailing bitter rivals River Plate by one point before the match, emerged dramatic winners on the last day of the season as River was held to a 1-1 draw by Atletico Tucuman in an away game.
“I don’t know how many titles I have, but this is just like my first championship with Boca. This is what keeps me in football. I regained my hunger for glory. I again felt that I had to return to my neighborhood,” said Tevez, who won two titles in the English Premier League and another in the UEFA Champions League during a long European sojourn before returning to his first club.
The 36-year-old fired home from 20 meters away with just 18 minutes remaining on the clock, notching up his 9th goal in 17 games this season.
Tevez caused a sensation by kissing legend Diego Maradona – who is the current coach of Gimnasia – on the mouth before the match, and explained his reasons afterwards.
“I had to kiss Diego (…) to look for luck,” he said, while celebrating his 5th title in Argentine top-tier soccer for the club along with his family at the stadium.
After midnight, the ecstatic audience marched towards the iconic Obelisco monument, which commemorates the establishment of the city of Buenos Aires, to celebrate the victory.
“Something told me this morning that (winning the title) was possible (…) and it happened. This is very emotional for my family because it is our first celebration since my father passed away two months ago,” Angela, a mother of three, told EFE after cheering the team with her children.
The victory was sweeter for the fans as it was snatched from the mouth of city rivals River, a club which had defeated Boca in the 2018 final and 2019 semifinal of premier South American competition Copa Libertadores.
“This victory carries the worth of robbing River of the title on the last day. Moreover, we had been whipped recently and we needed a respite like this one. I am very happy,” said 69-year-old Antonio.
Boca is now close to equaling city Rivers’ all time high tally of 36 titles in a rivalry dating back many decades, and have now won three of the last four national titles.
The club’s followers were monitored by a heavy police deployment during the celebrations as the city and club have in the past witnessed ugly incidents of violence between rival fans.