BUENOS AIRES, Argentina (AP) – Martin Palermo said goodbye at Boca Juniors Bombonera stadium on Sunday after playing his final match at the home ground that helped to shape his career.
The 37-year-old Palermo was greeted with a shower of confetti, and wild, sustained cheers from the crowd. Thousands of fans also held signs reading: ''Thanks Martin'' and ''Palermo 9 - Eternally Grateful.''
Boca Juniors drew Banfield 1-1 in the match, giving Boca 27 points in the Clausura standings with one match to play next week at Gimnasia. Nicolas Colazo scored for Boca in the 47th and Facundo Ferreyra equalized in the 84th.
''There are so many things passing through my head right now,'' Palermo told the fans after the match from the center of the pitch. ''I'm thankful to all of you - for all the love, for all the years together, for the victories and all the sadness. But we always got a smile out of you with the possibility of a goal.''
On the other side of Buenos Aires on Sunday, Velez Sarsfield clinched the Clausura title - marking another season without a title for Boca. Boca was the dominant club in South America between 2000 and 2008, winning four Copa Libertadores titles, but Boca - like Buenos Aires rival River Plate - has not won a league title since 2008.
Palermo failed to score in his farewell, but he had a few good shots.
His best chances came in the 13th minute when he missed from close in and in the 32nd when his shot sailed just inches wide of the far post from a 20-meter (yard), left-foot drive. Palermo also attempted to score on an overhead kick in the 63rd, but the shot was easily stopped by Banfield keeper Enrique Bologna.
Palermo, among the top five scorers in Argentine football in the professional era dating back to 1931, started with Argentine club Estudiantes in 1992 and had stints with Spanish clubs Villarreal, Betis and Alaves during his long career.
He is the leading goal-scorer in the history of Boca Juniors with 236 goals in official games. He also scored 36 with Estudiantes, 25 playing in Spain and nine for the national team for a grand total of 306.
Palermo won 14 titles with Boca Juniors. He had some memorable moments with Argentina's national team, as well.
His most important goal may have come in a qualifier for the 2010 World Cup when he scored in second-half injury time in a driving rain to defeat Peru 2-1. It was a critical goal that allowed Argentina to get to South Africa.
Coach Diego Maradona called the goal ''the Miracle of St. Palermo.''