Copa Libertadores 2018: Leandro Paredes denies getting deliberately sent off to attend Boca vs River

Zenit St Petersburg midfielder Leandro Paredes has been forced to deny accusations that he deliberately got himself sent off in order to fly back to Argentina in time to watch the Copa Libertadores final between bitter rivals Boca Juniors and River Plate.

Paredes was dismissed in the 83rd minute of a Russian league match against Akhmat Grozny on Sunday for kicking out at Brazilian midfielder Ravanelli.

The subsequent suspension has ruled Paredes – who grew up supporting Boca and spent eight years there before leaving for Roma in 2010 – out of Zenit’s match against CSKA Moscow on Sunday, freeing him up to attend the first leg of the final at his boyhood club’s ‘La Bombonera’ stadium on Saturday.


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In the wake of his red card, some Zenit supporters and people in his native Argentina suggested Paredes planned to get himself sent off to ensure he could attend the match, but he angrily denied that he would compromise his current club for his former one.

“I was going to arrive on Sunday in Argentina, but as we played on Thursday for the Europa League in France, they proposed that I not return to Russia and travel directly from there on Friday,” he told Fox Sports Argentina.

“It’s all a lie. Nothing happened here. It’s something that was invented in Argentina.

“I didn’t earn red card on purpose, I would never do something like that. When I heard that this was being talked about, I talked with the Zenit sporting director and he told me that they trust me.”

Boca’s rivalry with River is one of the fiercest in world football, and this year’s Copa Libertadores final will be the first time ever that the two Argentine giants have met with the South American championship at stake.

The first leg at La Bombonera will take place on Saturday, with the return leg at River’s Estadio Monumental scheduled for 24 November. Away supporters have been warned to stay away from both matches in a bid to avoid violence overshadowing the final.

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