by Marc Serber
Universidad de Chile are the rightful champions of the 2011 Copa Bridgestone Sudamericana after playing some of the most enthralling football that South America has seen in years.
La U lifted its first international title after defeating LDU Quito 3-0 in the second leg for a 4-0 aggregate victory.
Eduardo Vargas scored in the third minute after LDU failed to clear. Following a flowing move, Matias Rodriguez crossed into the box where a poor defensive header fell kindly for a wide open Vargas to smash home.
From then on, the result was never really in doubt as U de Chile bossed the game and continued to create chances. Had it not been for the heroics of LDU keeper Alexander Dominguez, the match would have been over as a contest well before halftime.
All hopes of a revival for LDU were killed off in the 67th minute when Jorge Guagua was shown a straight red for leading with his elbow when going up for a header.
The result was confirmed 11 minutes from time when U de Chile set off on a trademark counter attack which has made them so dangerous over the last few years. Marcos Gonzalez won a challenge in his defensive end triggering a six player, seven pass move that ended with Gustavo Lorenzetti calmly slotting the ball home after Dominguez spilled Vargas’ initial effort.
Four minutes from time, Vargas finished off the tournament in style with the perfect coup de grace. The 22-year-old picked up possession 50 yards from goal and blew by three defenders before deftly flicking the ball beyond the onrushing keeper. The goal took Vargas’ tally to 11 for the tournament (three in the final) meaning he would finish as the Copa Sud Golden Boot winner. It also served to cement his status as one of South America’s most sought after talents.
Universidad de Chile are now unbeaten in 35 games and are just four away from adding another domestic championship to their trophy case as well. Their beautiful movement and silky passing means the comparisons to Barcelona are not that far off.
U de Chile’s victory in the Copa Sudamericana is not just one for the club, or for Chile, but for “The Beautiful Game.” Just like Barcelona, U de Chile are proving that you can win titles with style, grace and an attacking art that reminds us all of why we are so infatuated with the game in the first place.
If only FIFA could fly U de Chile out to Japan to play against Santos and Barcelona...
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