November 11 – Ecuador’s Independiente del Valle defeated Colon of Argentina 3-1 to win the Copa Sudamericana and cap off a fairytale run.
The game was played in typical chaotic conditions with torrential rain forcing the game to be suspended for an hour in the first half. Ground staff mopped up much of the water, but pitch conditions never returned to normal. Neither did the rain recede entirely, but it didn’t bother Independiente del Valle.
The small club from Quito were playing an away game in Asuncion, Paraguay’s capital that had been flooded by about 40,000 Argentinean fans and just a few hundred Ecuadorian supporters. En route to the final the team had eliminated Brazilian giants Corinthians.
Central defender Luis Fernando Leon headed home a free kick before left winger Jhon Jairo Sanchez doubled their lead, his attempt finding the net after a small deflection. Shortly after the break, Colon veteran Luis Rodriguez had the chance to get the Argentineans back into the game, but his penalty was saved by keeper Jorge Pinos. Still, Colon found a goal from centre-back Emanuel Olivera.
With Colon streaming forward in search of an equaliser, the Ecuadorians exploited the space left by their opponents. Alejandro Cabeza scored a third and this time there was no way back for Colon. A decade ago, Independiente del Valle weren’t even playing in Ecuador’s top flight. Today, they are a hotbed of youth development in the country and, against the odds, have deservedly won a continental title.
Contact the writer of this story, Samindra Kunti, at moc.l1576361063labto1576361063ofdlr1576361063owedi1576361063sni@o1576361063fni1576361063