By DAN KARELL
For the first time in club history, Atletico Mineiro are South American champions.
The Brazilian club entered the second and final leg of the Copa Libertadores final against Olimpia of Paraguay down two goals, but in front of their home fans at the Estadio Mineirão, Ronaldinho and co. amounted a comeback of epic proportions. After two goals in the second half to tie the leg, the match went to penalties, which saw Mineiro win in penalty kicks, 4-3, setting off wild celebrations from the sold out crowd.
After a scoreless first half, former Manchester City forward Jô sent a low-footed shot that snuck past Olimpia goalkeeper Martin Silva for a goal in the 47th minute, giving Mineiro some more life.
Mineiro continued to attack in the second stanza, but desperate defending had saved the day time and time again for the Paraguayan club, keeping their title hopes alive. Those hopes were partially dashed in the 85th minute when Olimpia’s Julio Manzur was sent off, and just two minutes later, a looping header from Mineiro defender Leonardo Silva bounced across the line to tie the score on aggregate.
Into the penalty kick shootout following a scoreless extra time, Mineiro goalkeeper Victor stopped Olimpia’s first attempt, and after the sides traded three goals each, Silva stepped up and scored a vital penalty kick before Matias Gimenez’s spot kick clanged off the post to give Mineiro and Ronaldinho their first ever title. Ronaldinho in particular becomes just the seventh player to win both the UEFA Champions League and Copa Libertadores.
The title ends a wild run for Mineiro in the tournament’s knockout stages, where they defeated Club Tijuana of Mexico on away goals in the quarterfinals with a stoppage-time penalty kick save by Victor and defeated Newell’s Old Boys in penalty kicks, 3-2, in the semifinals, again coming back from two goals down with a goal in the 5th minute of stoppage time to send the match to extra time.
Here are some more stories to get your Thursday kicked off:
JAMAICAN PLAYER TESTS POSITIVE FOR BANNED DRUG
An unnamed player on the Jamaican National Team has reportedly tested positive for a banned substance, according to FIFA and the Jamaican Football Federation.
The test dates back to a World Cup qualifier on June 11 against Honduras, and while the player and substance were not disclosed, the player could face a lengthy ban from FIFA. Jamaica lost that match, 2-0, and are currently in last place in the CONCACAF Hexagonal round of World Cup qualifying.
Last March, FIFA suspended Peruvian midfielder Joel Sanchez from all matches he is eligible to play for two years due to a positive test after a match.
GUARDIOLA BEATS HIS OLD CLUB FOR ULI HOENESS TROPHY
Pep Guardiola didn’t have to wait very long as Bayern Munich manager to face his former club.
In the annual Uli Hoeness Cup hosted by Bayern, the German side defeated Barcelona, 2-0, in a friendly match that saw both sides use their massive allotment of substitutions to get everyone an opportunity to take the field.
The game was the first meeting between the two sides since Bayern knocked Barcelona out of the UEFA Champions League semifinals last spring, and just like the results from that two-legged tie, Bayern got off to a quick start. Phillip Lahm sent a flicked header past Barcelona goalkeeper Victor Valdes in the 15th minute, and after both teams regulars were off the field, Mario Mandzukic scored Bayern’s second of the match from close range in the 87th minute.
Jordi Roura was the interim Barcelona manager for the match as the club await Gerardo Martino’s arrival late this week.
JESE SIGNS NEW REAL MADRID DEAL
One of the stars of the FIFA Under-20 World Cup, Spain’s Jese Rodriguez, was considering his club future after the tournament. As of Thursday though, everything has been settled.
Jese has accepted a new contract from Real Madrid for the next four years at more than €1 million per season, keeping him at the Estadio Bernabeu until 2017. After a terrific season at Real Madrid Castilla last year, where he scored 22 goals in 38 games, Jese is due a turn in the first team this season.
At the Under-20 World Cup, Jese bagged five goals in five games, despite Spain being knocked out of the tournament in the quarterfinals.
On Wednesday, a young Real Madrid side drew with Ligue 1 club Lyon, 2-2, in a friendly match in France.
Napoli President Aurelio De Laurentiis has confirmed via Twitter that both Pepe Reina and Gonzalo Higuain have passed their medicals, and will be presented at the club on Monday. (REPORT)
Arsenal winger Gervinho is linked with a move to Serie A with AS Roma. (REPORT)
Interested in buying a new Neymar Barcelona jersey? It will cost you nearly $132 dollars. (REPORT)
Paris Saint-Germain midfielder Kevin Gameiro has completed a transfer move to Sevilla in La Liga. (REPORT)
Norwich City have had a bid accepted for Celtic forward Gary Hooper. (REPORT)
What do you think of these reports? Impressed with Atletico Mineiro’s Copa Libertadores victory? Surprised with Bayern’s easy victory? Do you see Jese playing with the Real Madrid first team this season?
Share your thoughts below.