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Prodigal Son Riquelme Returns Copa to Buenos Aires
The Guardian, June 21st, 2007 3:45PM

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It was always probable that Boca Juniors would ride out its 3-0 first-leg victory against Gremio to record a sixth Copa Libertadores title, but Juan Roman Riquelme's two goals in Porto Alegre Wednesday night sealed the victory in grand style: the 5-0 aggregate win was the largest margin of victory in a final in the history of the continental championship. More impressive, perhaps is the fact that Boca has now won the Copa Libertadores four times in the last eight years, with two Copa Sudamericanas in between.

It was said before the second leg that as Riquelme goes, so goes Boca. Well, fans of the popular Buenos Aires club should thank their lucky stars for the way the Argentine has played in the Copa Libertadores this season. The central midfielder led Boca in the competition with seven goals, six of which came during the knockout phase, including three goals in the two-legged final. Riquelme may be a polarizing figure among pundits and tacticians, but there can be no question that this tournament was his.

This year's Libertadores will also be memorable because it came in the same year when FIFA banned games played in stadiums played above 2,500m above sea level, says the Guardian's Ricardo Orihuela. Interestingly enough, Boca won the title despite playing three of its group matches in Cusco, Peru, Toluca, Mexico, and La Paz, Bolivia. It didn't win any of these, of course, though it earned a 0-0 draw against Bolivar at almost 13,000 feet. (Boca crushed Bolivar, 7-0, at sea level in the decisive group match.)

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