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Thursday, July 16, 2009
ESPNsoccernet: July 17, 2:52 PM UK
Coach Sabella hails Fernandez goal

Estudiantes boss Alejandro Sabella cited his team's equaliser as the key moment in the Argentinian side's Copa Libertadores final victory as they beat Cruzeiro in Brazil.

Goals by Gaston Fernandez and Mauro Boselli helped the La Plata side come from a goal down to win South America's top club competition with a 2-1 away win after a goalless first leg.

Fernandez levelled things at the Mineirao six minutes after Henrique opened the scoring with a 51st-minute strike.

Then in the 71st minute, Boselli headed the ball home to give Estudiantes their fourth Libertadores title.

Sabella, who replaced Leonardo Astrada in March when the tournament had already started, told FOX Sports: "The first thing you need to worry about when you go behind is to not lose your shape, especially against Brazilian teams.

"We suffered a little bit, but we equalised. Psychologically, that goal was too bad for them, but too good for us. All the players deserve a statue."

The coach also hailed Juan Sebastian Veron, who was named mad of the match, saying: "Veron is the most important player in the history of Estudiantes."

Former Boca Juniors striker Boselli criticised Cruzeiro for letting off fireworks before the start of the second leg, saying: "They'll have to keep the celebration they prepared for another time. You should never celebrate beforehand. They thought they'd won the title before playing.

"It is a tremendous achievement for us. We've achieved our goal. We have to celebrate this with our fans here and the ones in La Plata."

Forward Jose Luis Calderon, who played the closing minutes after coming off the bench, was set to retire this month but was convinced by Veron to stay on and play the FIFA Club World Cup in Abu Dhabi at the end of the year.

He said: "We deserve to be champions. We won like Estudiantes play - we were tough, we ran hard and we played good football. When things are well at a club, like in a family, this is what you get. This is the most beautiful thing I have experienced in football because I'm an Estudiantes fan."

Rolando Schiavi joined Estudiantes to play in the final, coming from Newell's Old Boys because of injuries to defenders.

The 36-year-old won the Libertadores with Boca in 2003, before he lost the 2007 final to the Argentinian giants.

He said: "I'm very happy. I thank Estudiantes for this happiness, because I didn't think I was going to experience this again."

Fernandez added: "To play here was very difficult, but the effort was worth it. We won a very tough championship, something all teams want."

Cruzeiro keeper Fabio, who was the man of the match in the first leg last week, was unable to explain the defeat at home.

"I have no words," he said. "Only Jesus Christ can console us. He knows everything. The opponents deserved to win."

Forward Ramires, who is now heading to Benfica, added: "I don't know what to say. This is a sad, disappointing moment for all of us. It's time to hold our heads up."




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