Leonardo Diaz would have been keen to observe the quarter-finals of the Argentina Championship between these nice previous rivals Boca Juniors and River Plate. Instead, he ended up taking part and taking part in an necessary function.
21-year-old Diaz is a goalkeeper who normally performs for one of many youthful sides of the River, however COVID-19 was hit. A complete of 15 river plate gamers examined constructive for the virus, together with 4 first-choice goalkeepers. Suddenly, Diaz discovered himself within the workforce, making his senior debut in a decisive knockout sport on the Boca Juniors Stadium.
And the very first thing he needed to do was to get the ball out of the again of his web. After a quiet begin, Boca scored within the eleventh minute with a cross from Christian Medina in the correct and a nook by Argentine legend Carlos Tevez.
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There had been no common saves from Diaz, there was nothing he may do to really feel his manner into the sport – and there was nothing he may do to cease Tevez from giving Boca an edge.
But if the skilled striker received the primary spherical, the following one went to the rookie keeper. The sport settled right into a sample. River, pursuing the sport, tried to play his personal manner, on the lookout for elaborate possession strikes which have been his trademark in Coach Marcello Gallardo’s lengthy reign. He has struggled for objectives all season – the Brazilian soccer defeat of playmaker Ignacio Fernandez has given the workforce a tricky battle – and right here, with the disappearance of a number of key gamers, there was little product to his demise.
Boca, in the meantime, at all times wished to be direct along with his two-winged Christian Pavone and Sebastian Villa opening the sphere and posing a risk to the river’s protection. They stored supplying Tevez, and Diaz continued to disclaim him.
Shortly earlier than half time, Villa flew over the boundary, and Diaz fell to the correct to dam the shot. It was a morale-boosting protection that set him up effectively for a second-half feud with Tevez. Soon after the restart Tevez launched into a wierd race, making room for the shot and fired a rocket. Diaz dived proper to push the ball across the submit.
Boca launched a counter, with Villa sweeping Tevez within the left channel. Diaz stood up reliably to cease the shot. The river was nonetheless in play, and abruptly, at a uncommon second of entry, they had been flat. Left-back Fabrizio Angilleri despatched in a deep cross, and the extremely promising striker Julian Alvarez rose to stage the purpose and equalized.
Boca despatched heavy artillery in the hunt for a winner, and he virtually arrived. Villa and Colombian playwright Edwin Cardona put Pavon in area. His pull again was met with the complete drive of Tevez’s proper boot – and fell to the left to save lots of Diaz. The match, just like the earlier three quarter-finals, would go to a penalty shootout. Diaz, who was not even a family identify in his personal home 24 hours in the past, would have a higher likelihood of changing into a hero.
And it virtually occurred. Cardona stepped up for Boca’s third kick. He went for a Panenka-style dink, however extra chalk than the ball and the shot went so slowly that Diaz had time to get better from his earlier transfer and save.
The drawback was that the second keeper saved two photographs. Boca’s goalkeeper Agustin Rossi additionally positioned his place within the workforce because of COVID-19. The first selection is Esteban Andrada, however for a Copa Libertadores match in Ecuador, he examined constructive for the virus. Andrada was pressured to stay in quarantine in Ecuador, and Rossi will get into the beginning line up. He threw himself to his left to save lots of from the Angleri, and went proper to get a block on a shot from Leonardo Ponzio to win the match.
Memories will final a lifetime for Diaz, however that day was of Rossi and Boca Juniors.