Boca Juniors defeat Barcelona on penalties in Riyadh in match to honour Diego Maradona

Inaugural Maradona Cup contested by two of the late Argentine's former clubs

Boca Juniors defeated Barcelona on penalties in Riyadh on Tuesday night in a match to honour Diego Maradona – a game that also saw the playing return of Dani Alves for the Spanish club.

After the inaugural Maradona Cup had finished 1-1 in normal time at Mrsool Park, Boca goalkeeper Agustin Rossi saved Matheus Pereira’s penalty before Guillem Jaime sent his spot-kick high above the crossbar to hand the trophy to the Argentines. Boca had scored all four of their penalties, prevailing 4-2 in the shootout.

Barcelona had taken the lead on 50 minutes through Ferran Jutgla, only for Boca forward Exequiel Zeballos to level not long afterwards and send the match to the shootout.

The one-off fixture was arranged to celebrate the late Maradona, who died late last year, aged 60. The Argentine, considered one of the greatest footballers in history, represented both clubs during his illustrious playing career.

Maradona played twice for Boca, between 1981 and 1982 and 1995 and 1997. Following the first stint, he joined Barcelona for a world-record $7.6 million, spending two seasons at the Nou Camp before signing for Napoli, for another record fee, $10.5m.

In the build-up to Tuesday’s encounter, Barcelona manager Xavi said Maradona had been his boyhood hero. Maradona, meanwhile, had strong links to the Gulf having managed both Al Wasl and Fujairah in the UAE.

While Barcelona ultimately lost, their fans will no doubt be buoyed by the return of Alves. The hugely decorated Brazil full-back, now 38, rejoined the club last month as a free agent, but is ineligible to appear in competitive matches until the transfer window opens next month.

Alves initially spent eight years at Barcelona from 2008, claiming three Uefa Champions League titles and six La Liga crowns. One of 11 changes to the side that drew in the league with Osasuna on Sunday, Alves was characteristically lively against Boca. He converted his penalty in the shootout.

Updated: December 15th 2021, 7:20 AM