River Plate defeated Tigres 3-0 at the Copa Libertadores’ final last night and claimed their third title at the continent’s most prestigious tournament – the first time they’ve won since 1996, and the first time they’ve reached a final since 2004.
From just watching the score, you might think that the game was a walk in the park for River, but it wasn’t. Tigres had at least two opportunities to score when the game was 0-0, and also a clear shot when they were trailing by just one goal.
River on the other hand, opened the score every chance they had. Leo Vangioni did a great individual play before crossing to Luca Alarios, who put it between the posts with a header. A more accurate summary of the game would be: both teams were even, but River scored and Tigres didn’t.
The story of River’s road to the title should be about their great comeback. Their accomplishment sounds almost like a movie script: 4 years ago they were relegated to the 2nd division of Argentine soccer. Two years after that, they became Argentine champions and qualified for the 2015 Libertadores, where they very close to being eliminated in the first round – it was Tigres in fact, who saved them.
Then there was the unfortunate gas incident in La Bombonera Stadium against historical rivals Boca Juniors. They also defeated a Brazilian team along the way, which is always hard. And of course, they defeated Tigres in the final, a dollar-injected Mexican team who were very focused on this title and just missed the opportunity to be the first Mexican squad to win Copa Libertadores.