BUENOS AIRES — Argentina's Superclasico derby of derbies between bitter rivals Boca Juniors and River Plate ended all square in a 2-2 draw on Sunday.
Leonardo Ponzio's early freekick, which left keeper Agustin Orion groping at thin air, put River, promoted last season a year after their first ever relegation stunned fans across the nation, into an opening minute lead.
And things looked even better for Matias Almeyda's men when Uruguayan Rodrigo Mora made it 2-0 midway through the second half at River's Monumental Stadium after former France star David Trezeguet linked-up with Carlos Sanchez.
But another Uruguayan, Santiago Silva, reduced the arrears with a 75th-minute penalty following German Pezzella's foul on Santiago Silva before Walter Erviti rescued a point in the first minute of stoppage time.
The point left Boca in fifth place, three points ahead of their Buenos Aires rivals and Almeyda was disappointed.
"River could have scored more goals. It's really annoying to have had to settle for a draw as we seemed to have things sewn up at 2-0," the former Argentina international said.
River had to reshuffle the pack with Almeyda having to take off defender Ramiro Funes Mori and Martin Aguirre after they suffered knee injuries in the opening period as 50,000 ferociously partisan fans looked on.
Leandro Gonzalez Pirez replaced Mori after just four minutes while Ariel Rojas came on for Aguirre just nine minutes later, disrupting River's solid start.
Although Boca will be the happier with the draw, in what was the first meeting of the pair in 17 months, a title challenge has not materialised so far this season as they trail leaders Newell's Old Boys by seven points after 12 games.
Newells stayed on top with a 2-0 win over Arsenal, Ignacio Scocco netting both goals.
River midfielder Sanchez said that "the draw leaves rather a bitter taste as River did everything to win it."
Boca defender Rolando Schiavi said that the opening goal, coming so early and which left keeper Orion flat footed, had shocked his side.
"The first goal really hit us and we didn't really create anything in the opening half," he reflected.
The Buenos Aires derby encounter has been described as the world's most intense sporting experience, pitting together two teams of more than a century's standing.
Both clubs were formed in a gritty part of Buenos Aires where Boca remain while River moved in the 1920s to a more upmarket area.
Games are traditionally passionate but tragedy struck the fixture after a dour 0-0 draw in 1968, when 90,000 people poured into the Monumental and 71 fans were crushed to death in the worst tragedy to hit Argentinian football.
The two sides were facing off for the 338th time in all Sunday with Boca having won 126 to River's 107 while 105 matches were drawn.
Meanwhile, security measures appeared to have worked efficiently after a renowned figure among Boca's 'barra brava' or hooligan fringe was picked up by biometric identification system and was refused entry to the venue.
Mauro Martin tried to get into the game but Interior Minister Florencio Randazzo said he had been caught in the net and was prevented from attending after his fingerprints were checked.
During the summer, Martin required hospital treatment for a gunshot wound suffered in a confrontation between rival Boca hardcore followers.
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