Libertadores 'superclasico' final delayed following River fans' attack on Boca Juniors bus

Television pictures showed Boca players emerge from the bus clearing their throats and with eyes streaming from the effect of the gas.

Published: 25th November 2018 08:22 PM  |   Last Updated: 25th November 2018 08:22 PM   |  A+A-

Wearing an eye patch, Gonzalo Lamardo, left, and Wilmar Barros of Argentina's Boca Juniors, walk on the pitch of the Antonio Vespucio Liberti stadium, after the final soccer match of the Copa Libertadores was rescheduled for Sunday, in Buenos Aires, Argentina, Saturday, Nov. 24, 2018. The match was rescheduled after the bus carrying the Boca Juniors players was attacked by River Plate fans, injuring several players including Perez. (Photo | AP)

By AFP

BUENOS AIRES: Saturday's "superclasico" Copa Libertadores final second leg was delayed more than two hours after Boca Juniors players were affected by tear gas and broken glass after their team bus came under attack from rival River Plate fans on the way to the stadium in Buenos Aires.

Tournament organizers Conmebol, the South American football governing body, said the match at River's Monumental stadium between the local arch-rivals would kick-off at 7.15pm (2215 GMT), more than two hours after its scheduled start time.

It had earlier been delayed from 5pm to 6pm due to the bus attack.

Local television stations had reported Boca were pushing for the game to be called off.

Boca players were left coughing and teary eyed after River fans pelted their team bus, smashing windows, with "pepper spray, sticks and stones" ahead of the Argentine giants' "superclasico" Libertadores title decider.

"They attacked us from everywhere," said Boca captain Pablo Perez, who was visibly affected by the gas.

"They threw pepper spray, sticks and stones. It came in the bus from everywhere," added central defender Carlos Izquierdoz.

Television pictures showed Boca players emerge from the bus clearing their throats and with eyes streaming from the effect of the gas.

In others, Boca players were being attended to by medical staff in their dressing room at River's Monumental stadium in the upmarket Nunez neighborhood of Buenos Aires.

Local television stations said some players suffered cuts from the broken glass.

A statement from Conmebol's medical commission shown on television said some players had suffered "superficial cuts" and that there was no medical reason to suspend the match.

The attack came despite the bus travelling with heavy police protection ahead of the second leg of the local derby between the two most popular teams in the country -- dubbed the biggest club match in the history of Argentine football.

Television pictures from the entrance to the Boca dressing room showed many players and staff seemingly affected by the gas.

A Boca official told the press that the pepper spray came from the police trying to disperse River fans.

"There was a lack of control in the last streets close to the Monumental. The police were overwhelmed by all the vandalism and had to disperse the River fans with tear gas," said the unnamed official.

"Because of the wind and the broken windows, it entered the bus."

The final of the Copa Libertadores, the equivalent of Europe's Champions League, is finely poised at 2-2 following the first leg at Boca's Bombonera stadium two weeks ago.

It is the first time ever it has been contested by two Argentine sides.

There will be no Boca fans at the second leg as travelling support has been banned at all Argentine football matches since 2013 due to hooliganism.

Football-related violence has cost the lives of more than 300 fans in Argentina over the last 50 years, according to figures from the Salvemos al Futbol (Let's save football) charity.

This local encounter is widely viewed as the fiercest rivalry in world football.

River have won the Copa Libertadores three times, the last of those coming in 2015.

Boca are six-time winners, a record bettered only by fellow Argentines Independiente with seven, but last lifted the trophy more than a decade ago.

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