The rivalry between River Plate and Boca Juniors is one of the fiercest in world football and fireworks are expected whenever the two Argentinian sides meet.
However, their clash on Sunday evening was absolute chaos – even by the standards of the ‘Superclasico’.
With the match scoreless in stoppage time at the end of the second half, it had looked as though the spoils would be shared at the Estadio Monumental.
The Primera Division contest took an ugly turn when the home side were awarded a late penalty. Striker Miguel Borja converted the spot-kick, but that was just the beginning of the drama.
In the aftermath of the penalty, a mass brawl broke out between the two sides – and former Manchester United goalkeeper Sergio Romero was at the centre of it.
The 36-year-old shot-stopper, who now represents Boca, was unhappy about being mocked by River Plate’s Agustin Palavecino after conceding the last-gasp goal, leading to a physical altercation between the pair.
When Romero’s Boca colleagues stormed in to defend their goalkeeper, all hell broke loose.
You can check out the moment when tensions boiled over below.
Video: River Plate v Boca Juniors ends up in a full-scale brawl
River Plate score an injury time penalty in the Superclásico and then….
— B/R Football (@brfootball) May 7, 2023
Riot police were eventually called in to help stewards restore order, after which the referee sent issued straight red cards to three players from each side.
Palavecino, Ezequiel Ignacio Centurion and Elias Gomez of River Plate all received their marching orders, as did Boca’s Miguel Merentiel, Ezequiel Fernandez and Nicolas Valentini.
Visiting coach Jorge Almiron was also dismissed for his role in the carnage.
Footage later emerged of River’s Gomez slapping Boca forward Merentiel in the face during the fracas, who quickly responded by trying to land a punch on his opponent.
Footage of Elías Gómez (River Plate, sub) slapping Miguel Merentiel (Boca Juniors, #16) in the face, who replies with a right fist lunge
by u/Joe_AM in soccer
Despite being involved in the incident that sparked the brawl, Romero escaped without punishment.
It took more than 13 minutes to fully diffuse the situation and play the remaining seconds of the match, as almost 20 minutes of added time were played.
Romero ‘bitter and sad’ after Superclasico defeat
River Plate ultimately held on to their advantage, but Romero couldn’t hide his disappointment at the result.
“We leave with a very bitter and sad feeling,” he told reporters after the match,per the Daily Mail.
“Palavecino came to shout the goal in our faces. I reacted well, I went to grab him by the waist and tell him why I was doing that. My teammates thought I was going to fight and they all came.”
Their win sees River Plate extend their lead at the top of the league table to nine points, while Boca find themselves languishing in 13th place.
The two sides will renew hostilities in August when they do battle in the final of the Trofeo de Campeones – the national cup of the South American country.
With silverware on the line, we don’t expect that match to be much friendlier than their recent encounter.