Argentine side River Plate are the 2015 winners of the Copa Libertadores after defeating Mexican squad Tigres by a score of 3-0.
It has been 19 years since Los Millonarios last lifted the prestigious South American trophy and it is their third Libertadores championship, winning in 1986, 1996, and now in 2015.
The first leg of the final was held at the Estadio Universitario in San Nicolás de los Garza, a suburb of Monterrey, and the game ended in a nil-all draw leaving the result to be decided at “El Monumental” in Buenos Aires.
Both teams looked poised to win the trophy none more so than Tigres who rested their star players and played their substitutes in Liga MX play in preparation for this big game. Only two other teams from Mexico had ever gone to the Copa Libertadores final, Cruz Azul in 2001 and Chivas in 2010, but never before has a Mexican team won the tournament.
However in their home ground, River Plate proved to be too much for Tigres as the Argentine club soundly outplayed Tigres. It took them a while to score their first goal, but it came at a very opportune time for the home side as Lucas Alario scored beautifully from a header right before the halftime whistle to give River the 1-0 lead.
Already down one, Tigres was sent into a panic taking unnecessary chances and completely choking on great opportunities at net. To further Tigres’ frustration, a reckless challenge in the 74th minute by Javier Aquino on Carlos Sánchez in the box led to a penalty call for River Plate. They made good from the spot and doubled their lead thanks to Sánchez’s goal, which basically sealed Tigres’ fate.
River Plate, still wasn’t done, as they got one more goal for good measure when Ramiro Funes Mori headed in a fantastic cross from Leonardo Pisculichi off a corner in the 79th minute. This goal sent the sold out crowd at the Estadio Antonio Vespucio Liberty into a frenzy as they were assured that their team would lift the coveted Libertadores trophy for the first time in almost two decades.
After the final whistle blew, as fans and players alike wiped tears of joy off their faces, the ultimate scene unfolded as River goalkeeper Marcelo Barovero and captain Fernando Cavenaghi both simultaneously lifted the Copa Libertadores in triumph.
It needs to be said, as we give a hats off to Tigres as well as they battled throughout the tournament and gave River one heck of a fight. The strength and willpower they demonstrated in the tournament shows what Mexican soccer has to offer on the international stage. But right now it’s a party for La Banda and they will most surely have Buenos Aires dressed in white and red until the next Copa Libertadores takes place.