Juan Sebastian Veron led Estudiantes to their fourth Libertadores Cup and first since 1970 when they upset Brazil’s Cruzeiro 2-1 in the second leg of the final at the Mineirao in Belo Horizonte on Wednesday.
The Argentine club, who had lifted the trophy three times in a row from 1968, triumphed 2-1 on aggregate after a 0-0 draw at home in La Plata last week.
It was a special achievement for Veron, emulating his father Juan Ramon, the outstanding player of the Estudiantes side that won the club’s three previous titles.
“Let them enjoy this — it’s for the fans. It’s unique,” former Lazio and Manchester United midfielder Veron told Fox Sports.
“We have to raise a monument to all the players,” said coach Alex Sabella. “Veron is the greatest ever Estudiantes player.”
Cruzeiro took the lead seven minutes into the second half when Henrique unleashed a drive from 25m that took a deflection off defender Leandro Desabato and went in at the near post, out of reach of the diving Mariano Andujar.
But Estudiantes replied within five minutes. Right-back Cristian Cellay whipped in a cross, keeper Fabio failed to cut the ball out and Gaston Fernandez tapped in from 2m.
Mauro Boselli headed the winner in the 73rd minute from Veron’s corner, boosting his tally as the tournament’s top scorer to eight goals.
“This is what one dreams of,” Boselli said. “It was our objective and we achieved it.”
Cruzeiro coach Adilson Baptista told a news conference: “We played better in the second half, went 1-0 up and could have got a second. Then we conceded goals through a loss of concentration in defense and a dead ball play.
“We’re not going to feel sorry for ourselves,” added Adilson, whose side became the second Brazilian team in a row to lose the final in the second leg at home.
Last year Fluminense lost on penalties to LDU Quito of Ecuador.
Cruzeiro substitute Thiago twice came close to pulling the Brazilians level in the final three minutes, first with a long-range effort that hit the angle of post and bar and then when he blasted over from close range.
Estudiantes had marginally the better of a tight first half in which neither goalkeeper had a save to make, although both sides had chances.
The first fell to Estudiantes when Fernandez crossed from the left to Boselli who mis-kicked in front of an open goal after 23 minutes.
Two minutes later Cruzeiro’s Wellington was sent through on goal by Wagner but Andujar came out smartly to smother the ball.
Close to the half hour, Desabato cleared a dangerous low cross into the box from Cruzeiro dangerman Kleber with Wellington again slow to pounce.