Universidad de Chile 2-1 O’Higgins (Agg 3-3, 2-0 pens) – La U become only the third Chilean side to win three-straight Championships

Campeones!

The match had entered stoppage time. There were barely five minutes of stoppage time remaining. Universidad de Chile were trailing O’Higgins 3-2 on aggregate in the Apertura play-off final. The end of a glorious era was approaching a heartbreaking finale. This once in a generation team that had won the club its first ever continental title had run out of energy, verve and most importantly ingenuity.

The 101st game was going the same way as the 100th, 98th, 97th and 96th; disappointment and there seemed little Jorge Sampaoli or his players could do about it.

But then a sudden burst from substitute Roberto Cereceda down the right dissected O’Higgins and created space for a cross. On his weaker right foot he clipped the ball into the box. There he was, positioned just as he was in the first-leg, Guillermo Marino. The veteran Argentine may not possess the pace of Junior Fernándes or the explosiveness of Matías Rodríguez or boundless energy of Charles Aránguiz but what he does harness is a technical ability and composure that would not look out of place in some of the best teams in the world. As the ball was clipped to him time seemed to slow, the Estadio Nacional wanted just one more reason to rock but before that came the silence, the intake of breath. Many would panic and thrash at the ball; others would take a touch before being blocked, but not Marino. Where players would lose their heads Marino stalked the ball with his eyes.  Marino and the ball, the only two objects that mattered. With his right foot he guided the cross back across goal and into the bottom corner, Luis Marín scraping his fingers against the ball.

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