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4. ARGENTINA: Estudiantes stuns Boca in playoff
December 14th, 2006 12:08AM

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Last week, Boca Juniors coach Ricardo La Volpe said he would be hanged if his team didn't win Argentina's Torneo Apertura.

After Estudiantes stunned Boca, 2-1, in a playoff on Wednesday, La Volpe did something less dramatic. He said he was quitting. The playoff ended a stunning reversal late in the Argentine season and a short tenure for the former Mexico national team coach as boss at Boca.

Boca losses to modest Belgrano and Lanus in the last two games of the season allowed Estudiantes to erase a four-point deficit and earn a single-game playoff at the Velez Sarsfield stadium. Boca led on a third-minute goal by Martin Palermo, but Estudiantes, coached by former Argentina star Diego Simeone, rallied to win on goals by Jose Sosa on a free kick in the 64th minute and Mariano Pavone with a spectacular individual effort in the 85th minute.

La Volpe, who coached Mexico at this year's World Cup, returned to Argentina in September after playing and coaching in Mexico for 26 years. When he replaced Alfio Basile, who resigned to take the Argentina national team coaching job, Boca was well on its way to joining Racing Club and River Plate as the only squads in Argentine history to win three league titles in a row.

Nothing went right for the volatile La Volpe, however. In his first game in charge, Boca was held to a 0-0 tie at home by modest Godoy Cruz, ending a streak of 12 successive league wins. Boca later lost to archrival River Plate, 3-1.


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