Matches between Boca Juniors and River Plate are normally like a tornado fighting a tsunami. But when the two rivals play each other three times over 12 days, you can be certain things will go horribly wrong. And in the second leg of their Copa Libertadores round of 16 tie, they did.
Less than two weeks earlier, Boca beat 2–0 to go top of the Argentina Primera Division. Then River beat Boca 1–0 in the first leg of their rare Libertadores pairing. And on Thursday, they faced each other yet again at La Bombonera to decide who would advance in the continental tournament.
Before the match even started, Boca fans were fighting with police and flew a drone carrying a ghost with the letter B printed on it (a reference to River getting relegated a few years back) over the pitch.
After a scoreless first half, leaving River up 1–0 on aggregate, either a Boca fan or the police blasted the River players with pepper spray as they came out of the tunnel before the start of the second half.
With the River players on the pitch washing their eyes out and gasping for breath, the match was abandoned. But they were stuck on the pitch for an hour, as it was too dangerous for them to go anywhere.
According to Reuters, Boca president Daniel Angelici later said, “This is all deplorable, it’s a huge embarrassment.” And he wasn’t wrong.