Argentinian giants River Plate, who are currently playing in their country’s second division following last season’s shock relegation, have showed their ambition to get back into the top flight by signing former France international David Trezeguet.
Trezeguet, who won a FIFA World Cup and who scored the winning “Golden Goal” for the French national team in the 2000 UEFA European Championship final against Italy, had only recently been playing in the United Arab Emirates but had decided not to continue at his club Bani Yas Sports Club following some injury problems. Now Trezeguet, who is of mixed French/Argentinian descent, will now go back to play in the land of his birth some seventeen years after he made his debut with CA Platense. As well as international success, he has also won league titles in France with AS Monaco and in Italy with Juventus.
Trezeguet signed a three year deal with River and there will be huge expectations amongst his club’s fanatical supporters for him to score the goals which will get Los Millionarios back into the top flight.
Universidad de Chile crowned a fantastic year by winning the Clausura championship final last night. Following a goalless draw in the first leg played last week, “La U” saw off final opponents Cobreloa with a 3-0 score line with all of the goals coming in the first half. Gustavo Canales, Eduardo Vargas and Matias Rodriguez scored the goals which settled the championship which was La U’s 15th Chilean championship title overall.
Having won the Apertura championship title earlier in the year Universidad de Chile have arguably been the team of the year in South America, even allowing for Santos FC’s Copa Libertadores triumph, as the Chilean champions have won three domestic titles in a row as well as picking up their first international trophy in the form of the 2011 Copa Sudamericana, a tournament in which La U remained unbeaten in twelve matches.
CATCH ALL OF THE GOALS IN THIS 12 MINUTE VIDEO
It may not have been the most difficult challenge that FC Barcelona would have to face in their quest to become FIFA Club World Cup winners. That, however, did not dampen the celebrations as the Spanish and European champions strolled their way past a poor Santos FC team courtesy of a 4-0 victory.
The game was over bar the shouting after the first 45 minutes of the game were played following strikes from Lionel Messi and Xavi, both of whom would go on to win the Golden and Silver balls as the best two players of the tournament after the game, and Cesc Fabregas who helped himself to their third goal on the stroke of half time.
Santos showed slightly more ambition in the second half after being overwhelmed in the first but chances from Neymar and Borges went begging. With eight minutes of the game remaining Barça sealed the deal once and for all after Dani Alves set up Messi for his second goal of the game to complete the rout. South American champions Santos FC were never in the game from the first kick and precocious teenager Neymar found out, just like Cristiano Ronaldo had done a week earlier, that Messi is still the main man on the big occasion.
FC Barcelona’s victory was their second triumph in this competition following their maiden win over Estudiantes de La Plata in 2009. Earlier in the day Asian Champions League winners Al Sadd had claimed third place in the 2011 FIFA Club World Cup having got the better of this year’s J-League champions Kashiwa Reysol by virtue of a 5-3 win in a penalty shoot-out following a goalless ninety minutes.
Deportivo Quito are the new champions of Ecuador following their 2-0 aggregate victory over Emelec in the final of the domestic championship.
In order to qualify for the play-offs Deportivo won the second stage of the league, which was played from July to December, topping the table after 22 games with a four point margin over Barcelona de Guayaquil. Deportivo’s opponents Emelec had already won the first stage, which took place from January to June, having got the better of LDU Quito with a similar margin of victory. The first leg of the overall championship final took place on Tuesday with Deportivo gaining a slender 1-0 advantage thanks to Fidel Martinez’s goal on the half hour mark.
Today saw the return fixture with Deportivo sealing the title in front of their home supporters. Matius Alustiza’s goal two minutes before the end secured Deportivo their fifth national title, their third in four years, and was all the more sweeter in a week which saw their arch rivals LDU lose out in the 2011 Copa Sudamericana final to Universidad de Chile.
Deportivo Quito and Emelec will participate in the 2012 Copa Libertadores along with the winner of the 3rd/4th play-off between LDU and El Nacional. The latter lead 2-1 from the first leg with the return fixture to be played on Tuesday night.
DEPORTIVO QUITO v EMELEC – 2ND LEG HIGHLIGHTS
Universidad de Chile are the deserved winners of the 2011 Copa Sudamericana. Their 3-0 second leg victory at home to LDU Quito last night completed a 4-0 aggregate win and brought with it the chance to compete in next year’s Copa Libertadores.
Eduardo Vargas, as so often in this competition, proved himself to be the hero for the Chileans. Vargas, who scored the only goal of the first leg last week in Ecuador, struck in only the third minute of the match to double Universidad’s advantage on aggregate. Second half strikes by Gustavo Lorenzetti and Vargas sealed the deal for La U who, as a result of their unbeaten run in this competition, won their first ever continental title.
Universidad de Chile have the chance to increase their trophy tally next year when facing off against 2011 Copa Libertadores winners Santos in the Recopa (South American Super Cup) and in the Suruga Bank championship which sees the Chilean champions face off against Japanese J-League Cup winners Kashima Antlers.
Kashiwa Reysol’s FIFA Club World Cup dream ended today at the hands of South American champions Santos FC. Neymar was amongst the goals for the Brazilians as they claimed a 3-1 win against the J-League champions whilst earlier in the day North and Central American champions Monterrey CF won the 5th/6th place play-off, getting the better of African champions Espérance Tunis by the odd goal in five.
Santos, in their first game of the new look Club World Cup, may have won the game against their hosts but Kashiwa continued to do themselves proud in this competition. Following earlier defeats of Auckland City and Monterrey, it was always going to prove tough to jump the final hurdle into the final but Kashiwa certainly weren’t overawed. Nonetheless Santos did what they had to do in a game which could prove to be a useful workout ahead of a potential final against FC Barcelona.
Quality strikes from Neymar and Borges gave Santos a two goal lead at the break but Hiroki Sakai reduced the arrears ten minutes into the second half to provide Kashiwa with a ray of hope. The hosts, however, would suffer a further setback in the 63rd minute when Danilo restored Santos’ two goal lead which they would preserve for the remainder of the game. Santos will now face FC Barcelona or, in the event of a massive shock, Asian champions Al Sadd in Sunday’s final and hope to claim a first world title since their second Intercontinental Cup win in 1963.
The day’s other game saw Monterrey CF restore some pride in the 5th/6th play-off against Espérance Tunis in a game which saw plenty of goals. Espérance, who controversially lost their quarter-final against Al Sadd, went ahead after half an hour to a Yannick N’Djeng goal only to see Monterrey turn the match on its head just before half-time with Hiram Mier and Aldo de Nigris getting on the score sheet.
Monterrey carried on where they left off in the second half with Jesus Zavala’s close range header increasing their lead to two goals but the Tunisians weren’t finished and made it a tight finish when Khaled Mouelhi scored from the penalty spot to make it 3-2 with a quarter of an hour left on the clock. However the Mexicans held out to ensure that they would chalk up a maiden victory in this tournament and they will hope, along with their African counterparts, to win their respective continental titles once more in 2012 and have another shot at world glory in Japan next year.
Brazilians Santos FC will participate in their first ever FIFA Club World Cup and are hoping to take the title back to South America after a five year period of domination for European clubs. Santos FC, who are based in Brazil’s second city of São Paulo, will face the winner of the quarter-final between Japanese champions Kashiwa Reysol and North and Central American CONCACAF Champions League winners Monterrey CF on December 14th. Should Santos overcome that challenge then a meeting with UEFA Champions League holders FC Barcelona looks the most likely prospect. Having won the old Intercontinental Cup on two occasions back in the halcyon days of Pelé back in the sixties, Santos would revel in winning a world title in its current guise.
Santos qualified for this tournament by virtue of winning their third Copa Libertadores title in 2011, the club’s first win in this competition since 1963. Santos finished second, by virtue of goal difference, in their group behind Paraguayans Cerro Porteño and ahead of Chileans Colo Colo and Venezuelans Deportivo Tachira with a record of three wins, two draws and one defeat in six games. In the knockout phase Santos scraped past Club America in the Round of 16 and 2004 Copa Libertadores champions Once Caldas in the quarter-finals before meeting group rivals Cerro Porteño again in the semis. Having won that round by the odd goal in seven, Santos ended the campaign with a narrow 2-1 aggregate win in a bad-tempered final against Peñarol. Following a goalless first leg in Montevideo Santos made home advantage count in the return fixture. Neymar put Santos ahead just a minute into the second half before Danilo doubled their advantage twenty minutes later. The Uruguayans reduced the arrears with ten minutes remaining to set up a nervous finish but the Brazilians held on to win the Libertadores for the third time in their history.
Since Santos lifted the South American crown back in June they have been involved primarily in their national championship and, with the comfort blanket of a place in next year’s Copa Libertadores already assured, finished the league season in a comfortable tenth place in the 20 team Serie A. If Santos are to lift the FIFA Club World Cup this year they ought to remember not to get too complacent before their semi-final tie against supposedly weaker opponents especially after last season’s Libertadores winners, Internacional of Porto Alegre, went crashing out to African champions TP Mazembe in the semi-finals of the tournament played in the United Arab Emirates.
SANTOS FC v PENAROL FC – COPA LIBERTADORES FINAL, 2ND LEG
It’s first blood to Universidad de Chile in the 2011 Copa Sudamericana final following their 1-0 first leg victory over Ecuadorians LDU Quito last night. Eduardo Vargas’s goal in the 43rd minute of the game proved the difference as the Chilean champions take a slender one goal into next Wednesday’s second leg in Santiago. For Universidad their unbeaten run in this year’s competition continues, having not lost a game in any of the eleven matches they’ve faced so far. If they maintain that record in the second leg then they will win the first continental title in their history.
After a three year drought, Boca Juniors finally claimed the Argentinian title following last night’s 3-0 win at home to CA Banfield in the Torneo Apertura (Opening Championship). Boca only needed one point to be sure of the title but sealed the deal with a win in front of their loyal followers at the Bombonera stadium in Buenos Aires and begin the celebrations with two rounds of matches still to be played in the first half of the Argentinian season.
Dario Cvitanivich bagged a brace in the first half with Diego Rivero grabbing Boca’s third just sixty seconds into the second half which left the rest of the game to be enjoyed as a title winning party for fans of Los Xeneixes. The celebrations were all the more joyous given that nobody expected Boca to win the title this season especially given the difficulties they had suffered in recent years. With relegation matters determined by a three year averages system Boca were far from safe at the start of the 2011-12 campaign with the club lying in 15th place in the relegation table before a ball was kicked in anger. With Boca’s arch rivals River Plate having faced the drop for the first time in their history last season, thoughts were more centred on staying safe rather than lifting silverware.
However Boca have turned their fortunes around in great style. After 17 of the scheduled 19 games of the Apertura, Boca still remain unbeaten with a record of eleven wins and six draws. Boca have scored 22 goals so far, the best in the league, but it is their defence which has significantly improved having only let in a measly four goals in this campaign. If they keep that up then they could be the first team to win both Apertura and Clausura championships since they themselves did it as recently as six years ago. This may not be so far fetched with their relegation worries now relieved, the club having lifted themselves to a very healthy sixth place in the averages table. For now it is the immediate present that concerns Boca and the league title, their 24th in the professional era, is now something that their fans can enjoy for themselves as opposed to celebrating the misfortune of their rivals.
The Brazilian national championship has made a habit of last day climaxes in recent years and this season’s competition is no exception. Corinthians (Played 38, Points 71) won their fifth Brasileiro tonight, their first league title since 2005, following a goalless draw against arch rivals Palmeiras. This came at the expense of Vasco da Gama who, needing all three points in the event of a slip up by Corinthians, were only able to draw 1-1 at home to Flamengo in another high profile derby match. On a day in which Brazilian football legend Socrates passed away, it was perhaps a fitting tribute to him that one of his old clubs should go on to win the title. Socrates served the São Paulo based club with distinction from 1978-84 in what was his most productive spell with any one club.
It was derby day in Brazil as the national federation had decided that the final round of matches should produce some thrilling drama on the last day and they weren’t disappointed. Although Corinthians’ match with Palmeiras remained goalless both teams were reduced to nine men as each side battled to get one over the other in a derby where there is no love lost and in which emotions certainly ran high with confrontations amongst the players commonplace throughout the game. Palmeiras thought they had ruined Corinthians’ title party by getting the draw but news came through of Vasco’s draw with Flamengo which prevented the former from overtaking Corinthians in the standings, the margin between the top two teams remaining at two points. Just to add a little spice to that encounter there were two red cards in that game as well, one for each side.
But it wasn’t just at the very top of the table where things were interesting. With places in next season’s Copa Libertadores and Copa Sudamericana to be sorted and relegation matters to be resolved at the bottom there were very few teams playing tonight for whom nothing mattered. Fluminense and Flamengo got the point they needed to secure Copa Libertadores placings for next season along with Internacional who, in the Porto Alegre derby, got the better of arch foes Grêmio by a 1-0 score line. Santos FC (2011 Copa Libertadores champions) and Vasco da Gama (2011 Copa Brasil winners) were already assured of their Libertadores places for next season before tonight’s games took place.
Copa Sudamericana places went to eight clubs - São Paulo, Figueirense, Coritiba, Botafogo, Palmeiras, Grêmio, Atletico Goianiense and EC Bahia – whilst four clubs were unfortunate to experience that sinking feeling as Avaí, América Mineiro, Ceará SC and Atlético Paranaense were relegated into Serie B next season. Cruzeiro of Belo Horizonte and Atlético Mineiro were lucky to stay in the top flight as they finished just two and four points above the relegation zone respectively.
CORINTHIANS v PALMEIRAS MATCH HIGHLIGHTS