Club Olimpia scored from a free-kick in the dying seconds to take a major step toward a fourth Copa Libertadores title with a 2-0 triumph in the first leg of the final against Atletico Mineiro of Brazil on Wednesday.
Central defender Alejando Silva had given the Paraguayan side a 22nd-minute lead with a shot from the edge of the penalty area, before midfielder Wilson Pittoni sent the home fans into raptures with a priceless second goal three minutes into stoppage-time.
Atletico defender Richarlyson will miss the second leg in Belo Horizonte, Brazil, on Wednesday next week after he was sent off for a second bookable offense in the 89th minute, but the biggest disappointment for the visitors was the performance of Ronaldinho.
The playmaker had a poor game for the tournament favorites, with coach Cuca hauling him off after a little more than an hour to send on Guilherme, who scored a key equalizer in last week’s semi-final, second leg against Newell’s Old Boys of Argentina.
“He wasn’t good, He wasn’t playing well and he’s a player like any other,” Cuca said of Ronaldinho, who glared disapprovingly at the coach as he trudged off.
Despite the setback, Atletico will not be giving up hope of securing a first Copa Libertadores victory after they reached the final by overturning a 2-0 first-leg deficit to Newell’s, before advancing on penalties.
The Brazilian side’s best chance came in the 77th minute when striker Jo was set up by Guilherme with a good chance for an equalizer, but his effort was well saved by Olimpia goalkeeper Martin Silva with his foot.
“I think Olimpia played some good football against such good opponents as Mineiro,” Olimpia coach Ever Almeida said.
“We have the most Argentine [passionate] fans in Brazil, we’re going to turn this result around. The fans will pack the Mineirao,” Atletico president Alexandre Kalil said.
“In these circumstances, the Mineirao has become the ideal stadium,” added Kalil, who had originally complained about not being allowed to stage the second leg at Atletico’s Independencia Stadium.
The organizing body ruled the 23,000-capacity Independencia was too small.
Also on Wednesday, last year’s Copa Libertadores winners Corinthians completed a 4-1 aggregate win over Copa Sudamericana holders Sao Paulo to lift the Super Cup.