Toyota Cup 2003
Boca travelled to Japan to contest their third Toyota Cup in four years. After surprising Real Madrid in 2000 and losing to Bayern Munich the following year, this time around the Copa Libertadores champions faced Carlo Ancelotti's powerful AC Milan side. And the Argentines made it two out of three as they brought the cup back to Buenos Aires. After a highly tactical opening that resembled a chess match rather than a game of football, the Italians struck first when Jon Dahl Tomasson slipped the ball home on 23 minutes. Boca refused to buckle and drew level just five minutes later when Matías Donnet guided a left-foot shot past Dida from close range. In a tight encounter, both sides missed clear-cut chances as the seconds ticked away. First Carlos Tevez blazed over from close range in the last minute of normal time, and then Roberto Abbondanzieri produced a stunning save to foil Andriy Shevchenko just four minutes from the end of extra-time. The Boca keeper was merely warming up for his pièce de résistance though, as he denied Andrea Pirlo and Alessandro Costacurta in the shoot-out. Raúl Cascini duly stroked home the deciding kick to give the Argentine giants another unexpected Intercontinental triumph, the third in their illustrious history.
The 19-year-old Carlos Tevez was the standard bearer of that victorious Boca Juniors side and although the youngster had just returned from injury, he came off the bench to play a crucial role in his team's victory. Perhaps the most decisive player on that heady night in Tokyo, though, was keeper Roberto Abbondanzieri, who denied Shevchenko from point-blank range in the second half of extra-time. "I knew we were world champions when I made that save. There was no way we were going to let it slip after that," he said. The Duck followed his miraculous stop with crucial saves from Pirlo and Costacurta in a nailbiting shoot-out. "I'd been waiting to put in a performance like that. Thank God that it came in the biggest game of my career," he added.
In securing his third Toyota Cup success, Carlos Bianchi became the most successful manager in Boca's history and in the history of Argentine club football. After leaving Boca in December 2001 - shortly after defeat to Bayern Munich in Japan - the "Viceroy" returned for a second spell in January 2003. Victory over AC Milan rounded off a fantastic year for the xeneizes in which they also picked up an Argentinian Apertura league title as well as the Copa Libertadores, the fourth of his trophy-laden career. "Boca always play with complete confidence in their abilities, no matter who their opponents are and how they play. Against Milan, although we knew we could win or lose, we were relaxed because of our inner confidence. As always, the team is the most important thing," said Bianchi, faithful as ever to his philosophy.
Boca Juniors 1-1 Milan (AET: Boca win 3-1 on penalties)
Stadium: Yokohama International Stadium
Ref: Valentin Ivanov (RUS)
Scorers: Tomasson (23'), Donnet (28').
Dida, Cafú, Costacurta, Maldini, Pancaro, Gattuso, Pirlo, Kaká, Seedorf, Shevchenko, Tomasson.
Coach: Carlo Ancelotti
Abbondanzieri, Perea, Burdisso, Schiavi, Rodríguez, Donnet, Battaglia, Cascini, Cagna, Iarley, Barros Schelotto.
Coach: Carlos Bianchi