Internacional came into the second leg of the 2010 Copa Libertadores final with all the advantages. The Brazilian side had earned a hard-fought, come-from-behind first leg victory over Chivas Guadalajara on the road in Mexico. But despite the two away goals in hand, they could not afford to even lose the second leg of the home-and-away final 1-0 — the Copa Libertadores does not permit the away goals rule to serve as a determining factor in breaking ties in its final. With the CONMEBOL spot in the FIFA Club World Cup already determined, the other Inter set to play against their Milanese namesake in December’s tournament in the United Arab Emirates as the last South American team in the Copa Libertadores, the pressure was off and the Brazilians held all the cards. With the crowds amassing at the Beira-Rio in Porto Alegre, everything was in place for the majority of the fans in the stadium to walk out gleeful at the result.
But that was not to say that Chivas was about to roll over and play dead, either. The Mexicans had come into this year’s tournament at the second stage of competition after having been forced to withdraw — due to the H1N1 scare in Mexico right around the time group play was concluding — after already qualifying for the knockout stage. They had taken out tough opponents to get to the final, and as one of the most dangerous teams on the road in the tournament (they had just gone to Santiago to defeat Universidad de Chile 2-0 to reach the final) nothing could be taken for granted.
The match started out quite chippy, with Guadalajara getting forceful early. The mood had been set before the match even started, as the Mexican national anthem was cut short in the Beira-Rio. The seeming slight led Adolfo Bautista of Chivas to walk away during the playing of the Brazilian national anthem, causing the partisan crowd to rain down its disapproval from the stands. It was bound to be a violent affair, which at one time would get to the point that Inter midfielder Tinga was left bleeding from his head to the point where he was given a swimming cap to wear, a change into his teammate’s shorts and then sent back on the field.
The physical play earned the Mexican side the first yellow card of the evening, Mario de Luna Saucedo getting shown the caution by three-time World Cup veteran referee Oscar Ruiz for his rough play on Rafael Sobis in the 10th minute. Eight minutes later, Sobis was the victim once again as Marco Fabian De la Mora took another dig into the Brazilian and saw his own yellow. But the midfielder would at least redeem himself before halftime, getting the visitors the halftime lead as he put the Omar Bravo service past Renan for the 1-0 halftime lead. If the scoreline would only hold, the Mexicans would force extra time.
So as the second half began, the chance that a Mexican side would win the South American tournament for the first time since first being invited to compete in 1998 was still very much alive. And it was Sobis, so brutalized in the first half by Chivas, who got the sweetest revenge of all. A quarter of an hour into the second half, the striker — who came over in the winter on loan from UAE side Al-Jazira, returning to the club where his professional career started — took a pass from Kleber and slotted past Chivas goalie Luis Ernesto Michel for the equalizer. If the score held, Internacional would earn their second Libertadores title in the past five years after never having won the tournament before in the club’s history.
[pullquote]“This is an incredibly special moment for Internacional and its fans,” captain Bolivar said moments after receiving the trophy from football great Pele. “We fought hard to win this and it finally happened. This is huge.”[/pullquote]
But the Brazilians knew that their draw was anything but safe against this stacked Chivas side. So when manager Celso Roth substituted out Sobis in the 73rd minute, it was not for an extra defender to protect their lead but instead for fellow striker Leandro Damiao. Not two minutes after the switch, the move proved prescient as the 21-year-old scored Inter’s second goal of the match. Now the Mexicans were really in a deficit, and it was soon to get even worse. Andrés D’Alessandro, threatening the Chivas goal, was taken down by Omar Arellano Riverón. The latter received the only red card of the match in the process, leaving Guadalajara to press forward trying vainly to net two goals before time expired just to tie things up.
Instead Inter got a third, Giuliano beating Michel to put the game thoroughly out of reach of the Mexicans. Chivas would take one last futile swing, Omar Bravo cleaning up Bautista’s deflection off the crossbar to set the final scoreline at 3-2. Getting three points for each of their two wins in the final, Inter added their fourth continental trophy to the club’s case back at headquarters. Even then, though, the enmity extended to the post-match ceremonies. Both sides erupted into a full-on brawl, kicking and punching one another on the pitch after the match and setting themselves up for retroactive suspensions. In the end Inter would win the Copa Libertadores, but nobody emerged looking like a winner after a game that seemed to take its cue from the way the Netherlands played Spain in the World Cup final a month prior…
Internacional 3 - 2 Guadalajara
|Rafael Sobis (61)||Marco Fabian De la Mora (42)|
|Leandro Damiao (75)||Omar Bravo (90)|
|Shots (on Goal)||12(8)||6(3)|
|Time of Possession||0%||0%|