Sunday, June 19, 2011

19 June 1960 - They Started Strong And Finished Well

On 19 June 1960, Peñarol won the inaugural Copa Libertadores tournament with a late goal from midfielder Luis Cubilla. It was the first of their five titles, making them the third most successful club in the tournament.

Known originally as the Copa de Campeones de América, the competition was open to the champions of all CONMEBOL nations, though only seven clubs chose to participate. Peñarol, the Uruguayan champions, opened the tournament with a 7-1 crushing of Bolivian champions Jorge Wilstermann, then beat Argentina's San Lorenzo in the two-legged semifinal. Olimpia of Paraguay, meanwhile, received a first-round bye, starting their campaign by beating Colombia's Millonarios in the other semifinal.

The Final was played in two legs, with the winner decided by points (two for a win, one for a draw). In the first leg, played on 12 June at the Estadio Centenario in Montevideo, Peñarol eked out a narrow 1-0 victory with a 79th-minute goal from the tournament's top scorer, Alberto Spencer.

The teams met for the second leg at the Estadio Manuel Ferreira in Asunción, where Olimpia forward Hipólito Recalde gave the home team a 1-0 lead in the 28th minute. Had that score held to the final whistle, the teams would have been forced to play a third time in a replay. But Cubilla avoided that by finding an equalizer in the 83rd minute. The draw gave Peñarol three points to Olimpia's nil, making the Uruguayan side the competition's first champions.

Peñarol successfully defended their title in 1961 and went on to win again in 1966, 1982, and 1987. The five titles represent the third-best haul by any club, behind only Independiente (7) and Boca Juniors (6). Olimpia eventually won it in 1979, then again in 1990 and 2002.

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