|Quito skipper Neicer Reasco celebrates with the trophy [AFP]|
Ecuador’s LDU Quito won their second South American club trophy in successive seasons despite losing 3-0 to Fluminense of Brazil in the second leg of the Copa Sudamericana final at the Maracana.
LDU, Libertadores Cup winners when they beat the same rivals in the final in 2008, only just denied Fluminense what would have been a remarkable comeback from last week’s 5-1 defeat in the first leg in Quito to take the title 5-4 on aggregate.
Diguinho, Fred and Gum scored for Fluminense at the packed stadium in Rio de Janeiro, but it was not enough to beat the Brazilian club’s first-leg loss.
Fluminense have had a remarkable run in recent months and are unbeaten in their last 10 Brazilian championship matches as they fight a rearguard action against relegation.
The Copa Sudamericana is South America’s second club championship, and is the second most important club tournament in South America after the Copa Libertadores.
Trying to win their first international title and boosted by nearly 70,000 fans at Maracana, Fluminense pressured from the beginning on Wednesday night to try to reverse the first-leg result. Coach Cuca set up his team with three forwards and it quickly started to pay off.
Midfielder Diguinho opened the scoring in the 14th minute with a long-range left-footed shot that deflected off Liga de Quito defender William Araujo and beat goalkeeper Alexander Dominguez.
Liga de Quito played a man down from the 18th minute after Ulises De la Cruz was shown a red card for a hard foul, and both teams had a player sent off in the second half.
|Fred scores for Brazil’s Fluminense but was sent off thirty minutes later [AFP]|
Striker Fred found the net in the 43rd minute with a low shot from inside the area after a perfect pass from forward Alan.
The Brazilians maintained the pressure in the second half and sealed the win when defender Gum scored with a header in the 73rd minute.
Fred was sent off in the 76th after receiving his second yellow card for protesting a decision and Liga defender Jairo Campos was shown his second yellow card in the 82nd.
Fluminense had several other scoring opportunities and continued to pressure into the closing minutes.
“Unfortunately it wasn’t enough,” Fluminense striker Alan said.
“We gave our best, but unfortunately we couldn’t get this last goal we needed.”
Wednesday’s encounter was a rematch of last year’s Copa Libertadores final, when Liga de Quito stunned Fluminense on penalties at Maracana.
“We knew it was going to be difficult,” Liga de Quito midfielder Diego Calderon said.
“All the goals we scored in Ecuador ended making the difference here.”
In the 2008 Copa Libertadores final, Fluminense erased a 4-2 first-leg loss with a 3-1 victory in the return match, eventually losing the title on penalties.