Tuesday, July 30, 2013

30 July 1976 - That's Giving The Fans Their Moneys' Worth

On 30 July 1976, Cruzeiro became just the second Brazilian team to win the Copa Libertadores, beating River Plate 3-2 in a playoff.

Since the tournament started in 1960, teams from Brazil had reached the final five times, but only oneSantosemerged as winners (though they did it twice, in 1962 and 1963). Palmeiras lost in 1961 and 1968 and São Paulo lost in 1974 before Cruzeiro had their opportunity. Their opponents were River Plate, who had been to the final once before, finishing as runners-up in 1966.

Cruzeiro hosted the first leg on 21 July and won 4-1, but River Plate won the second leg 2-1 a week later. Because the title was decided on points, not aggregate score, the results required a playoff at a neutral ground.

They met at the Estadio Nacional de Chile in Santiago, where Cruzeiro took a two-goal lead with goals from Nelinho (24') and Eduardo (55'). River Plate fought back with goals from Oscar Más (59') and Urquiza (64'). The Brazilians would not be denied, however, and got a late match-winner from Joãozinho (88').

Since then, Cruzeiro has returned to the final three more times, most recently in 2009, and won it again in 1997. River Plate, meanwhile, made it back to the final twice more, in 1986 and 1996, winning it both times.

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