Gorosito-Acosta. Palermo-Guillermo. Bochini-Bertoni. To these great pairs of Argentine soccer we can add one more: Maradona-Caniggia. The greatest of all time with another huge player like Pájaro coexisted in the Boca de Carlos Salvador Bilardo.
And on July 14, 1996, 25 years ago, they had the pleasure of thrashing River in La Bombonera in a superclassic that remained in the memory for the three goals scored by Caniggia. And also, for the famous “piquitos” that were found with Pelusa after the celebrations of the many.
“If Cani scores a goal against River, I’ll give him a little bit,” said Maradona in the run-up to the match, always spicy when declaring. And he complied with pleasure, because he was able to give several to his friend and partner.
Boca and River faced each other on the 16th date of the 1996 Clausura, and they had two great teams.
The local formed with: Carlos Navarro Montoya; Fernando Gamboa, Néstor Fabbri, Carlos Javier Mac Allister, José Horacio Basualdo; Fabián Gustavo Carrizo, Cristian Alberto González, Juan Sebastián Verón; Diego Maradona; Claudio Caniggia and Alphonse Tchami.
River, for its part, did it with: Germán Burgos; Hernán Díaz, Celso Ayala, Guillermo Rivarola, Ricardo Altamirano; Marcelo Escudero, Leonardo Astrada, Gabriel Cedrés, Pablo Lavallén; Gabriel Amato and Enzo Francescoli.
In a Bombonera that exploded with people with local and visiting fans in the stands, Boca took the lead in the 43rd minute of the first half with a header from José Basualdo.
The previous play featured Maradona and Caniggia on the right side of the court. The center of Cani was very well connected by the former Vélez, who put a tremendous front to the left corner of Burgos.
In the second half, with more spaces, the Bird, who was intractable, faced on the right, left several rivals on the road and defined crossed before the bilge of Mono Burgos for 2 to 0. There were 5 minutes of play.
The avalanche of people in the arc that led to Casa Amarilla was shocking, although not as much as the one generated by Perotti’s goal, after a pass from Maradona, in the 1-0 to Ferro in the 1981 Metropolitano.
At 21 minutes, entering as number 9, Caniggia connected a pumped pass from Fabbri and before the desperate exit of Burgos put the 3 to 0.
But there was more to do. At 31 minutes, Aníbal Hay charged a penalty against Tchami and Maradona himself took over the execution. Diego did not come straight with the penalties, who arrived after erring several in a row: he failed again. He finished off to the right, the ball hit the post and Caniggia took the rebound for the 4-0.
El Pájaro came to the rescue of 10 so that his error in the auction went unnoticed, and to earn another “little bit” for that historic triplet achieved in the superclassic.
Total party in La Boca. Then came Amato’s discount, to decorate the result.
“To score three goals against River is a pleasure, I always dreamed of being in the hearts of the people of Boca,” Cani would say after the game. Boca took a valuable victory against the classic rival, who had just won the Copa Libertadores a few weeks ago.
However, the win did not serve to consecrate himself in that championship. Then, he lost to Racing 1 to 0, fell 2 to 1 against Estudiantes, drew with Español and he finished seven points behind champion Vélez Sársfield.
But the memory of that tournament left a Boca that brought together many national team players on the court, such as Kily González and Bruja Verón, among others.
Maradona and Caniggia formed a great partnership on the pitch, but they didn’t have many matches together. In the Xeneize they played 23 games.
Anyway, the duo left some indelible images, not only in Boca, but also in the National Team. Like the goal against Brazil in the 1990 World Cup, with the great assistance of Diego after stacking several rivals and the extraordinary definition of the Bird. Or the famous Caniggia shout to Diego, desperately asking for a pass in a free kick, for the 2 to 1 first round to Nigeria, in the 1994 World Cup in the United States.
This game against River was one of the last that had them together on a court, at least officially. Then they were present against Racing and Estudiantes, until the end of the tournament and an outcome that did not leave the best memory for Boca for not being able to be champion.
But when it came to remembering great pairs and great players Maradona and Caniggia, in that 1996 Boca, they gave themselves the pleasure of giving Boca fans a joy. Caniggia, in addition, with the bonus of scoring three goals against River in a single game.