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River Plate wins Copa Sudamericana

River Plate wins Copa Sudamericana

Posted by Juan Gavasa on December 11, 2014

After a 1-1 draw in the first leg, second-half goals from Gabriel Mercado and German Pezzella gave Los Millonarios a 3-1 aggregate win and a long-awaited first title in this tournament, making up for a decade of hurt since its 2003 final loss.

Nacional goalkeeper Franco Armani made its work for the success, pulling off a string of first-half saves to frustrate Teofilo Gutierrez and Rodrigo Mora, but River made the breakthrough early in the second period.

In the 54th minute, Mercado headed in Leonardo Pisculichi's corner, and five minutes later Pezzella did likewise in a carbon copy of the opener. The result saw Marcelo Gallardo become the first man to win a continental title with River both as a player and a coach, having been a member of the teams that claimed the Copa Libertadores title in 1996 and the Supercopa crown in 1997.

"The players understood how we needed to play a gave a big effort," he told Argentina's Channel 7. "The supporters backed us and I feel very proud for the club. I grew up as a player and now I have managed to give this joy to the club in a different role, as a coach."

Mercado told Fox Sports: "We were aware of the challenge we faced. This is a great group of players and we totally deserve this victory." River can now follow up its title with a domestic crown at the weekend, but needs to beat Quilmes and hope Racing Club fails to beat Godoy Cruz.

The Sudamericana title also puts River into the Recopa Sudamericana against Libertadores winner San Lorenzo, as well as the Suraga Bank Championship against J-League winner Gamba Osaka.

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