Thursday, August 6, 2015

Campeones! – River Plate win Copa Libertadores

The mission was successful: For the first time since 1996, CA River Plate have won the Copa Libertadores again. In their own home stadium, El Monumental, Tigres UANL did not stand a chance and were beaten by a commanding 3-0 win. Goals from Lucas Alario (45’), Carlos Sánchez (74’, penalty) and Ramiro Funes Mori (79’) gave the Argentinians a 3-0 success on aggregate. River now hold all three big South American titles at the same time: Libertadores, Sudamericana, Recopa.


Starting right from kickoff, River took control of the game and tried to press the Mexicans back into their own half. Still, a lot of fouls early destroyed the rhythm a bit and after only 25 minutes, five yellow cards were handed out already. The Mexicans had the first real opportunity in the 24th minute, when a solo run from Jürgen Damm left behind multiple opponents. Instead of shooting, he tried to cross it into the middle, which did not turn out well as Gignac lost the ball. While thunder and lightning were threatening in the sky, the first half remained pretty poor. Captain Cavenaghi was kept from shooting in the 32th and that was about it from the first 45 minutes.

Well, almost at least. Leonel Vangioni had other plans, nutmegged a defender and crossed the ball in from the left side. Alario was there to finish it with a diving header into the bottom left corner – 1-0 River in the last minute of the first half! It was not particularly deserved after a relatively eventless first half, but it is not like the Argentinians would care.


Lucas Alario! The speedy winger who gave River Plate the lead on the night (left, with Bertolo).

Quite a few shots from distance from both teams would start the second half, none of them too threatening, but on the wet grass it was a good way to test the goalkeepers. The best chance for Tigres came in the 68th minute, when Damm finally got by Funes Mori, but the beautiful cross right onto his head was followed up by a weak finish from Javier Aquino.

Only five minutes later, the game was effectively put to bed. Uruguayan star Carlos Sánchez was fouled by Aquino when entering the area, the clear penalty was converted by Sánchez himself. Goalkeeper Nahuel Guzmán was without a chance, 2-0 River.

Coach Marcelo Gallardo gave captain Fernando Cavenaghi his final ovation by subbing the striker off in his last game for the club. The show still had to go on, and it did. Tigres conceded one more: Pisculichi, who came on for Cavenaghi, brought in the corner which found the head of Funes Mori that crowned his great allround performance by marking the 3-0.

That was all the game had to offer. Tigres disappointed on the night after playing an outstanding Libertadores campaign. In Buenos Aires meanwhile, legends were born. In particular, coach Gallardo who has now won the competition as a player and a coach with the same club, received chants and congratulations over and over.

Here are the video highlights of the match:

And the trophy celebration:


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