'Saint' Palermo rediscovers touch

BUENOS AIRES - Miracle man Martin Palermo confounded the critics who see his Boca Juniors days as numbered by scoring one goal and laying on two more in a much needed victory on Sunday.

Palermo, two months short of his 37th birthday, helped Boca beat promoted Olimpo 3-1 in the southern port city of Bahia Blanca to ease the pressure on coach Claudio Borghi.

"To take part in two goals and score another is important for me," Palermo, Boca's all-time record scorer with 224 goals, told reporters.

"It's good for one's confidence and the team's," added Palermo, the man called Saint Palermo by Diego Maradona, who took him to his first World Cup this year more as a talisman for his knack of scoring timely goals.

Palermo, who scored once in just 10 minutes of action in South Africa, had struggled to justify his place in coach Claudio Borghi's side playing alongside a more mobile centre forward in Lucas Viatri who has scored four goals.

But Palermo, like the injured Juan Roman Riquelme, is a cult figure at the club and it was difficult to see new coach Borghi dropping him even after Viatri made his mark from the opening match.

POOR START

Boca started the Apertura championship with a 1-1 draw at Godoy Cruz before two defeats, 2-1 at home to Racing Club and a shock 2-0 loss at promoted All Boys.

A home win over title favourites Velez Sarsfield was followed by another loss at their Bombonera ground, 2-1 to San Lorenzo.

Viatri was scoring but Boca were losing with one of the worst defensive records in the division.

Palermo broke his season's duck when he pulled back a stoppage-time goal against San Lorenzo, enough to rekindle his self-belief.

Palermo makes up for lack of mobility with astute positioning and his perfect layoff with his back to goal allowed Viatri to drive a shot into the bottom corner.

After Olimpo had equalised, Palermo pounced on a poor clearance to put Boca ahead again and crossed perfectly for defender Juan Insaurralde to head the third.

With seven points from six matches, Boca are in 12th place six points behind leaders Estudiantes, Velez and arch-rivals River Plate.

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