Thursday Kickoff: River Plate win Copa Libertadores; Di Maria completes move to PSG; and more

Thursday Kickoff: River Plate win Copa Libertadores; Di Maria completes move to PSG; and more

European Soccer

Thursday Kickoff: River Plate win Copa Libertadores; Di Maria completes move to PSG; and more

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By DAN KARELL

A little bit of wind and rain didn’t hold down the celebrations in the suburbs of Buenos Aires as River Plate became continental champions for the third time in the team’s history.

River Plate defeated Mexican side Tigres UANL, 3-0, in the second leg of the Copa Libertadores final to win the title at their home stadium, El Monumental. Young forward Lucas Alario headed home a great cross from fullback Leonel Vangioni just before halftime to give River the lead, and then a penalty kick goal from Carlos Sanchez and a headed goal from Ramiro Funes Mori in the 75th and 79th minutes, respectively, put the game on ice and started the celebrations in the stands.

“I’m incredibly happy for the fans who are enjoying this party,” River head coach Marcelo Gallardo, a former midfielder for D.C. United, told the AP. “And we are going for more.”

The feat is even more impressive considering the obstacles River faced along the way. River were the last team to make it into the group stage of the event, setting up a Round of 16 encounter with rival Boca Juniors that ended with River advancing due to a heinous act by a Boca fan, spraying gas at River players as they attempted to re-enter the field of play.

River then beat Brazilian champions Cruzeiro, Paraguayan side Guarani, and finally Tigres to claim the title.

Here are some more stories to kick off your Thursday:

DI MARIA OFFICIALLY A MEMBER OF PSG

Angel Di Maria’s long-rumored move has finally become a reality.

On Thursday morning, Paris Saint-Germain announced that they had completed a transfer deal with Manchester United for the Argentine international, signing him to a four-year contract. According to reports in England and France, the transfer fee involved is €63 million ($68.6 million), which is the second highest in Ligue 1 history, behind the €64 million spent in 2013 to bring Edinson Cavani to the Parc des Princes.

“I am very proud, and can’t wait, to wear the colors of Paris Saint-Germain,” Di Maria said in a statement. “I want to win every competition we enter, both in France and Europe. I want to win the Champions League, which is a dream for all footballers, for a second time. We will do everything we can to bring Europe’s biggest trophy to France and the fans of Paris Saint-Germain.”

Di Maria joins PSG after just one season with Manchester United, who spent a reported £60 million ($93 million in today’s exchange rate) on Aug. 26, 2014 to sign him from Real Madrid. Di Maria played 27 times in the English Premier League, but injuries and a lack of form slowed him down later in the season, and made him expendable this summer.

WILSHERE INJURED AGAIN AFTER CRACKING BONE IN LEG

Arsenal’s Jack Wilshere is set to face another lengthy spell on the sidelines after suffering yet another serious injury.

Wilshere suffered a hairline fracture in his left fibula, the smaller of the two leg bones that runs along the calf, leaving him sidelined for at least the next few weeks, if not longer.

“The information you have heard about Jack Wilshere is right,” Wenger told Arsenal.com. “I had a bad surprise because it is a hairline crack in his fibula that makes him a few weeks out. There is minimal damage apart from the bone damage – there is no damage at all apart from that. It was a collision in training and it was all completely accidental.”

According to a piece by Goal, this is Wilshere’s 21st injury suffered in the last six seasons. Wilshere has missed valuable time on the field due to a variety of injuries, including injuries to both his ankles, feet, his left hamstring, and now left fibula.

QUICK KICKS

Bayern Munich won the Audi Cup with a 1-0 victory over Real Madrid, thanks to a Robert Lewandowski goal. (REPORT)

Hugo Lloris could start for Tottenham this weekend in their EPL opener against Manchester United after recovering from a wrist injury. (REPORT)

Sunderland have signed French international midfielder Yann M’Vila on a season-long loan from Rubin Kazan. (REPORT)

Paul Pogba has been given the No. 10 jersey at Juventus with the departure of Andrea Pirlo this summer. (REPORT)

Barcelona’s Jordi Alba is expected to miss up to two weeks of action after picking up a knock to his right leg during a friendly match vs. AS Roma. (REPORT)

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What do you think of these reports? What did you think of River’s performance? Disappointed that Tigres couldn’t win in Buenos Aires? Do you see Di Maria leading PSG to UCL glory?

Share your thoughts below.

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