Thursday, August 6, 2015

River Plate Wins Copa Libertadores Soccer Tournament

In a summer of sporting firsts, Chile men’s national team captured their maiden Copa America crown while Victor Espinoza became the first Latin American jockey to ride a Triple Crown-winning horse. Mexican soccer teams have never captured the Copa Libertadores but UANL Tigres hoped to change that on Thursday night. Alas, it was not to be as storied Argentine side River Plate won South America’s top soccer club tournament with an emphatic 3-0 home victory.

After a scoreless first leg in Monterrey, the first half of the return leg in Buenos Aires was largely dull with scant scoring chances and plenty of fouls for both sides. Yet on the verge of halftime Los Millonarios finally broke through when recently acquired Lucas Alario headed home the first goal of the match. The fouls piled up in the second half and it seemed inevitable that a player for either team would be sent off or cause a foul in the penalty box. The latter would occur in favor of River Plate and Carlos Sanchez coolly converted the penalty kick to double his side’s lead. Most of the 60,000 plus ay the packed Estadio Monumental could sense that River was on the cusp of ending their nineteen-year Copa Libertadores title drought, and this was assured by a Ramiro Funes Mori goal eleven minutes from full time.

Neither the pouring rain nor the impending departure of Funes Mori dampened the spirits of River fans including thousands who celebrated near the Monumental and iconic Obelisco de Buenos Aires into the wee hours of the morning.

For River, their third Libertadores championship represents a remarkable turnaround four years after financial mismanagement, poor coaching and lackluster results led the team to relegation into the second division. The side rose from arguably the worst crisis in club history under ex-player and current coach Marcelo Gallardo to win multiple league titles as well as the latest Copa Sudamericana.

“The history of this club is about fighting for these kind of competitions,” observed midfielder Leonardo Ponzio. “Today is the greatest that you can achieve as a club and we did it.

This year’s edition of the Copa Libertadores saw the emergence of young talent like Yulian Mejia and Pedro Gallese while also showcasing teams from around the Americas apart from traditional powerhouses in Brazil and Argentina. Unfortunately what will most likely be remembered from the tournament will be the ejection of River Plate’s bitter rivals, Boca Juniors, following a pepper spray attack during a match in May.
YouTube Source – Futbol Mundial

Online Sources (English) - CNN, The Guardian, ESPN FC, Washington Post

Online Source (Spanish) - Clarin

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