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Olimpia storm back to win Libertadores Cup

© Reuters Limited

Paraguay's Olimpia won the Libertadores Cup for the third time on Wednesday, coming from behind to beat Brazilians Sao Caetano 2-1 in the second leg of the final and then winning a penalty shootout 4-2.


Julio Cesar Enciso (C) of Paraguayan soccer club Olimpia and his teammates celebrate their win against Brazil's Sao Caetano in the final of the Libertadores Cup.
Photo Jose Patricio, Reuters
Olimpia, beaten 1-0 at home in last week's first leg and in apparent disarray after the shock resignation of the club president on Monday, seemed to be in more trouble when Ailton gave Sao Caetano a first-half lead.

But goals by Gaston Cordoba and Richart Baez within 15 minutes of the restart made the aggregate score 2-2 and Olimpia held on for penalties despite having midfielder Victor Quintana sent off for the second game in a row.

Olimpia converted their first four penalties in the shootout while Sao Caetano's Marlon and Serginho both skied their efforts wildly over the bar to give the Paraguayans the title in the fourth successive Libertadores final to be settled by a shootout.

It was another heart-breaking evening for the team known as the "Big Blue" (Azulao), beaten finalists in the Brazilian championship for the last two years.

Olimpia's triumph came 48 hours after president Osvaldo Dominguez Dibb stormed out of the club, claiming his players lacked commitment and making serious allegations of indiscipline off the field.


Paraguay's Olimpia's player Sergio Orteman (L) fights for the ball with Brazil's Sao Caetano's player Daniel da Silva.
Photo Sergio Moraes, Reuters
It also came one week after the club celebrated their centenary and six months after Nery Pumpido - the goalkeeper in the Argentina team which won the 1986 World Cup - took over as coach.

Sao Caetano, who were only founded in 1989 and did not play at first division level until two years ago, were poised to complete their astonishing rise after last week's win in Asuncion.

Victory seemed even more likely in the 32nd minute when veteran midfielder Ailton played a perfect one-two with striker Somalia on the edge of the penalty area before placing his shot wide of goalkeeper Ricardo Tavarelli.

DANGEROUS OLIMPIA
But Olimpia, who ousted defending champions Boca Juniors in the quarter-finals and former champions Gremio in the semis, looked dangerous.

They had started brightly and wasted an excellent early chance when striker Baez headed wide of an open goal after Sergio Orteman had crossed from the byline.


Fans of Paraguay's Olimpia celebrate their team's Libertadores Cup title win in Asuncion, early August 1, 2002.
Photo Claudio Prieto, Reuters
Orteman went close with a header before halftime and then Sao Caetano coach Jair Picerni was sent off during a touchline scuffle involving a number of players.

Olimpia needed only 13 minutes of the second half to turn the game around.

Cordoba, who had a shot blocked by team-mate Baez immediately after the restart, equalised in the 49th minute with an angled shot after Orteman had chested down a cross.

A high centre was again Sao Caetano's undoing nine minutes later when Baez beat two defenders to the ball and his header looped over goalkeeper Silvio Luiz.

Olimpia then sat back and handed the initiative to Sao Caetano, who hit the bar with a header from central defender Daniel.

But the Brazilians were never able to get their usual passing game going, even after Quintana's dismissal.

The hard man of the Olimpia midfield, returning from suspension after his sending-off in the semi-final second leg against Gremio, saw red again after a wild lunge at Russo earned him a second yellow card.


  Copyright © 1994-2002 FIFA. All rights reserved.
  Copyright © 1994-2002 En-Linea, Inc. All rights reserved.


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