Thursday, July 03, 2008

L.D.U Wins Final of 2008 Libertadores Cup

Ecuadorian Team beats Fluminense in Rio de Janeiro

Liga Deportiva Universitaria (LDU) from Quito, Ecuador is the new champion of the Copa Libertadores, the most prestigious South American club tournament, only equaled in importance by the UEFA Champions League. The final match of the two-way tie was played in the night of July 2 at the Maracana Stadium in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. LDU´s opponent was Fluminense, one of the city’s most popular clubs and there was a fever pitch atmosphere at the Maracana since the team had never been able to win the Libertadores. Fluminense had to win by a three goal difference to become champions because LDU had won the first match in Quito by 4-2. Before the match the Fluminense players declared to the local press that they would come out and put continuous pressure on LDU from the first minute. However, in front of 80,000 spectators, LDU got off to a great start since Luis BolaƱos scored in the fifth minute. The goal was quite lucky since a Fluminense defender turned his back on the shot and allowed the ball to go between his legs. This confused the local goalkeeper that could not stop the ball but just as the local crowd began to get nervous, Thiago Neves set the house on fire by equalizing in the 12 minute with a low long range shot past LDU goalkeeper Jose Ceballos. Eventually both these players would become the villain and hero of the night at the end of the match.
An inspired Thiago Neves would score yet again in the 28th and 56th minute and with the aggregate score tied at 5-5 the match continued with a further 30 minutes of extra time. A legitimate goal scored by Claudio Bieler in the 116th minute could have given LDU and instant victory but it was disallowed since a linesman considered that the Argentine striker was offside. Since at the end of full time the match was with the same scoreline so a penalty shootout had to be carried out. Another Argentine, Dario Conca was the first of three Fluminense players to miss the penalty kick, such as the unfortunate Thiago Neves and Washington, a free kick expert. Campos was the only player that missed for LDU and so for the first time in history, an Ecuadorian team became champions of the Copa Libertadores. Until now, teams from countries on the Atlantic side of the continent have monopolized this tournament that has been played since 1960, the other clubs being Atletico Nacional of Colombia in 1989, Colo Colo (Chile) in 1991 and Once Caldas in 2004.

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