Boca Juniors on Wednesday beat reigning World and South American champion Corinthians, 1-0, at home in the first-leg of its Copa Libertadores Round of 16 series with the Brazilian giant. Striker Nicolas Blandi tapped home a Cristian Erbes cross from close range in the 59th minute for the only goal of a game that both coaches admitted was lacking in quality. Corinthians squandered two golden opportunities to equalize soon after conceding, with Boca keeper Augustin Orion denying Romarinho in the 63rd before Paolo Guerrero hit the post six minutes later. Seven minutes from the end, Boca midfielder Pablo Ledesma was dismissed after receiving two yellow cards in quick succession -- the first for taking his shirt off after celebrating a goal that was called offside.
"It was a tough game, we were playing against the world champions, who are even stronger now," Boca coach Carlos Bianchi said after the game. “It's important that we didn't concede. The team worked hard and I think we can be more positive about the future. The attitude is more important than the system you employ. If you don't have a positive attitude, you can't win."
Corinthians coachTite sounded equally satisfied: “It is a normal result [to lose 1-0 in La Bombonera]. Of course we did not want to lose, but it is fully reversible.” He added: “Both teams can deliver a better performance. The game had too much catimba (fight), too much dispute and not enough football. Boca took advantage of this and their intensity was effective. We have to win [the return leg in Sao Paulo].”
The same teams met in the competition’s final last year, which Corinthians won 3-1 on aggregate. While the Sao Paulo club went on to win FIFA’s Club World Cup in December, it’s been mostly downhill for Boca since then. In fact, the win was the Buenos Aires club’s first in six games. The six-time Copa Libertadores winner is currently 18th in the Argentine Torneo Final table.