When the clock ticked down to midnight on the 31st December there would have been much reminiscing in Santiago from Azul Azul fans after Universidad de Chile completed an unprecedented Apertura, Clausura and Copa Sudamericana treble with a thumping 3-0 second-leg win over Cobreloa in the Estadio Nacional on the 29th after a goal-less first-leg on Boxing Day.
In 2011 Chilean football may have witnessed a team that will go down as one of the best and most successful in the country’s history. A look at how they arrived at three trophies in a year and countless records broken can be read in more detail here.
Over the two-legged final La U showed their dominance in the end after what can only be described as an edgy and gritty first-leg in Calama. There was little in the way of goal mouth action. However there was controversy as Cobreloa had a goal controversially ruled out. Nicolás Trecco’s flicked header from a corner was met by Diego Barrios who saw his own header come down off the bar prompting a scramble on the La U line between Jhonny Herrera and Cobreloa defender Sebastián Roco. Herrera managed to trap the ball under his legs but it was knocked free and Barrios bundled the ball behind the line. The referee, Eduardo Gamboa, adjudged Herrera to have had the ball under his control.
The only other point of note was Jorge Sampaoli banishment to the stands after vociferously protesting with Gamboa.
In front of a packed out and atmospheric Estadio Nacional Los Azules left no one in doubt as to who were the number one team in Chile, despite only needing a draw. Gustavo Canales got the scoring started in the 24th minute knocking Charles Aránguiz’s sweeping centre into an empty net. But the goal can be owed to the cross-field diagonal guided-missile pass from Marcelo Díaz which found Aránguiz.
Four minutes later the lead was doubled with a swift counter-attack which started on the edge of La U’s box once a Cobreloa attack had broken down and it finished with Eduardo Vargas, playing his last game in Universidad de Chile strip before moving to Napoli, beating Cobreloa goalkeeper Nicolás Peric with a heavenly chip from the edge of the box having run with the ball from deep inside his own half; an ideal way to finish his La U career after the sending-off against Universidad Católica in the semi-final.
The game was put to bed ten minutes from half-time as La U notched their third goal in 11 minutes. Again it was a Cobreloa attack that broke down enticing the home side to pour forward with pace and numbers. They looked to have regained possession in their own half but sloppy play resulted in another turnover. Aránguiz moved the ball to Eugenio Mena advancing from the left-side who in turn sent a cross deep into the Cobreloa box. The cross was flicked to the back post where an unmarked Matías Rodríguez, coming off the right-flank, easily cut inside and netted the third and final goal.
With the game over the second half was futile, Cobreloa coming closest to scoring when Nicolás Trecco saw a shot come back of the post. While more significantly there was a final appearance and farewell for Universidad de Chile legend Diego Rivarola. ‘Goku’ as he is affectionately known by the Azul Azul is the leading foreign goal scorer for La U with 101 goals will now at the age of 35 take a role behind the scenes. The Argentine (naturalised Chilean) opted against carrying on his career elsewhere.
A fine way to say goodbye to two legends at opposite spectrums of their career; Universidad de Chile claiming their 15th national title.