Corinthians win Copa Libertadores for 1st time
SAO PAULO, Brazil (AP) — Brazilian club Corinthians finally won their first Copa Libertadores title on Wednesday, beating six-time champion Boca Juniors 2-0 to win the final 3-1 on aggregate.
Emerson opened the scoring in the 54th minute with a shot from close range after a free-kick cross into the Boca Juniors area, then sealed the victory in a breakaway in the 72nd, sending a low shot into the far corner.
Corinthians won the title unbeaten over 14 matches of Latin America's main club competition. They had drawn Boca Juniors 1-1 in the first leg last week.
Corinthians are Brazil's second most popular club behind Flamengo and have five national titles, but had never had much success internationally until Wednesday. They won the inaugural FIFA Club World Cup in 2000, but only after they were invited as the host team in a competition which few of the international teams took seriously.
They reached the final of the Copa Libertadores for the first time this year, and they did it by defeating defending champion Santos, with star striker Neymar, in the semi-finals.
All of Corinthians' main rivals in Brazil — Palmeiras, Sao Paulo and Santos — had won the competition at least once and the team's failure to win the title had been giving opposing fans bragging rights for years.
"A team like Corinthians should've won the Copa Libertadores before," Corinthians playmaker Danilo said. "We came into this final very focused and we played a great match to finally get it done."
Corinthians' defence was key again on Wednesday, not allowing Boca Juniors to threaten during most of the match. The Brazilian club finished the competition without a loss and allowed only four goals. When playing at the Pacaembu, Corinthians outscored their opponents 15-1.
"This group deserved this title," Corinthians coach Tite said. "No team did more than we did, no one marked better, no one was more focused. This isn't happening by luck, we deserved it."
Both teams began cautiously and there were few scoring opportunities for either side in the first half. Corinthians playmaker Alex tried some long-range shots, while Boca had a few chances from corners.
But Corinthians struck on a set piece early in the second half after a right-side free-kick taken by Alex. Midfielder Jorge Henrique headed the ball backward and Danilo flicked it behind the defenders to Emerson, who calmly struck the ball past Boca Juniors goalkeeper Carlos Sebastian Sosa.
Emerson then increased the lead after a bad pass by Boca Juniors defender Rolando Schiavi. Emerson intercepted the ball and ran free toward the area, placing his shot into the corner as Sosa watched.