Estudiantes Fight Back To Edge Cruzeiro To Win Copa Libertadores

Estudiantes have won the 2009 Copa Libertadores after a come-from-behind victory.

Cruzeiro 1-2 Estudiantes de la Plata (Agg: 1-2)

After a goalless draw in the first leg in La Plata last week, the Mineirao crowd were feeling confident ahead of kick-off that their Cruzeiro heroes would lift their third ever Copa Libertadores title.

Estudiantes, looking for their fourth triumph in this competition, but their first in almost four decades, took a more conservative approach compared to the home leg when they took the game to their rivals right off the starting blocks.

First Half

The Argentines kicked-off the encounter but immediately found themselves on the backfoot as the hosts quickly went on the assault and applied constant pressure inside their opponent’s half.

Neither side, however, managed to fashion up any clear-cut chances in the opening 20 minutes. It was indeed a scrappy contest and both teams struggled to piece together any free-flowing passes and as the game wore on, it became more physical.

The first real threat came in the 21st minute when Gaston Fernandez cleverly backed into Heleno inside the box, drew out Leonardo Silva and held up the ball before clipping it into space for Boselli, who completely mistimed his shot and failed to make any clean contact with the ball.

The match promptly opened up after that and straight to the other end, Magrao’s corner found Leonardo Silva, but his looping header just flashed inches wide at the back post. Moments later, Wagner released Wellington clean through on goal, but Andujar dashed off his line in time to smother the ball.

Still, there was no breakthrough. And as frustration set in, the game almost boiled over ten minutes from half time when Leonardo Silva hacked down and stomped on Gaston Fernandez, prompting Veron to intercept as a shoving match ensued.

That would prove to be the last meaningful action of any sort in the opening 45 minutes as both sets of defenses continue to reign supreme and extra-time looked more probable than a goal.   

Second Half

After a 22 minute interval, A Raposa began the second period with renewed vigor and just two minutes in, Wagner’s deep diagonal freekick found Wellington, but with his back to goal, the No.9’s glancing header flew well wide.

But after 141 minutes of football in the final, the deadlock was finally broken and Cruzeiro had the honors of scoring the opener. Henrique’s speculative piledriver from 25 yards out from took a wicked deflection off Desabato’s thigh as the ball flashed past a flat-footed Adujar and into the bottom corner of the net, sending the Mineirao into raptures.

The Brazilians’ hard work was quickly washed down the drain when on 57 minutes, Estudiantes drew leveled. Veron sprayed the ball forward to Cellay over at the byline and the right-back pulled it back to the middle for Gaston Fernandez, who simply could not miss tapping the ball into the empty net after the centre squeezed past Fabio.

With no away-goals rule in this tournament, it was back to square one. Los Pincharratas had an opportunity to take the lead for the first time on 68 minutes when Boselli turned his marker just outside the box before unleashing a stinging shot, but Fabio was well-positioned to make an easy save.

Estudiantes began to look the more dangerous side as they launched wave after wave of attack. And their persistence paid off when they cannoned into the lead in the 72nd minute after Boselli thumped in a bullet header from Veron’s corner.

Captain, Veron himself almost sealed the championship on 79 minutes when his superb curling, dipping freekick from 30 yards out just sailed over the crossbar. The Brazilians started pushing men forward and Thiago Ribeiro had three excellent chances in succession to haul his side back into the contest.

First, his low drive on the edge of the box was easily saved by Andujar and in the 85th minute, his sweetly struck half volley from a similar distance crashed against the crossbar and bounced clear, much to the relief of the La Plata outfit.

Two minutes after that, the substitute latched onto Magrao’s freekick at the back post but he failed to direct his effort on target from three yards out.

Estudiantes held on and as soon as the final whistle went, the celebrations began on the pitch. El Leon can now marvel at their fourth Copa Libertadores trophy in their history and they will represent South America in the FIFA Club World Cup in the Emirates in December this year.

LINE-UPS

Cruzeiro: Fabio – Jonathan, Heleno, Leonardo Silva, Magrao – Henrique, Marquinhos, Wagner (Athirson, 70’), Ramires – Kleber, Wellington (Thiago Ribeiro, 75’)

Estudiantes: Andujar – Cellay, Schiavi, Desabato, Re – Enzo Perez, Brana (Matias Sanchez, 87’), Veron, Leandro Benitez (Diaz, 80’) – Boselli, Gaston Fernandez (Calderon, 91’)

CRUZEIRO 1-2 ESTUDIANTES

1-0: Cruzeiro (Henrique, 51’)

1-1: Estudiantes (Gaston Fernandez, 57’)

1-2: Estudiantes (Boselli, 72’)

YELLOW CARDS

Cruzeiro: Kleber (37’),

Estudiantes: Veron (37’), Brana (44’), Cellay (82’), Matias Sanchez (89’)

KS Leong, Goal.com