River Plate’s 3rd win of Copa Lib­er­ta­dores ti­tle

The China Post - - SPORTS - BY VI­CENTE L. PANETTA

Ar­gentina’s River Plate de­feated Mexico’s Ti­gres 3-0 on Wed­nes­day to win an un­likely third Copa Lib­er­ta­dores ti­tle — and the club’s first in nearly 20 years.

Striker Lu­cas Alario scored with a header in the 45th minute and midfielder Car­los Sanchez added to the lead by con­vert­ing a penalty kick in the 75th.

De­fender Ramiro Funes Mori then sealed the vic­tory un­der pour­ing rain off a cor­ner kick in the 79th, giv­ing the sto­ried club an im­prob­a­ble ti­tle af­ter a dif­fi­cult start to the Latin Amer­i­can com­pe­ti­tion.

River Plate had the worst cam­paign among the 16 teams that ad­vanced to the knock­out stage, only man­ag­ing to make it that far with some help from Ti­gres, which beat Peru­vian club Juan Aurich in the fi­nal round of group stage matches to help River se­cure its spot.

River Plate then reached the quar­ter­fi­nals af­ter ri­val Boca Ju­niors was elim­i­nated from the tour­na­ment be­cause its fans sprayed play­ers with an eye ir­ri­tant be­lieved to be ei­ther pep­per spray or mace in the teams’ sec­ond-leg match at Boca’s La Bom­bon­era Sta­dium.

River Plate had won the first leg 1-0 at home and the re­turn game was score­less when it was in­ter­rupted at half­time.

River had to over­come more dif­fi­cul­ties in the semis. The club lost the first leg 1-0 at home to two- time de­fend­ing Brazil­ian cham­pion Cruzeiro, be­fore re­bound­ing with a stun­ning 3-0 win in Brazil.

“I’m in­cred­i­bly happy for the fans who are en­joy­ing this party,” said River Plate coach Marcelo Gallardo, a midfielder with the River team that won the 1996 Copa Lib­er­ta­dores ti­tle. “And we are go­ing for more.”

With the ti­tle on Wed­nes­day, River Plate se­cured a place in FIFA’s Club World Cup in Ja­pan in De­cem­ber.

River and Ti­gres drew 0-0 in the first leg of the fi­nal in Mexico last week.

River Plate, which won its first Copa Lib­er­ta­dores in 1986, is Ar­gentina’s most suc­cess­ful club with 34 ti­tles. This year’s tri­umph, how­ever, comes only four years af­ter it was rel­e­gated to the Ar­gen­tine sec­ond di­vi­sion for the first time, mark­ing one of the worst pe­ri­ods in the club’s history.

Ti­gres was try­ing to give Mexico its first Copa Lib­er­ta­dores tro­phy. Cruz Azul was run­ner-up in 2001 and Chivas of Guadala­jara lost the 2010 fi­nal.

AP

Ar­gentina’s River Plate play­ers hold the tro­phy aloft while they celebrate win­ning the Copa Lib­er­ta­dores fi­nal soc­cer match against Mexico’s Ti­gres in Buenos Aires, Ar­gentina, Thurs­day, Aug. 6.

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