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 Posted by ESPN Staff
Jul 11, 2013

Atletico battle into final

All eyes were on former world player of the year Ronaldinho as he looked to inspire Atletico Mineiro to their first ever Copa Libertadores final.

Atletico Mineiro will take on Olimpia in the Copa Libertadores final after overturning a 2-0 deficit in a thrilling and often bizarre semi-final second leg against Newell's Old Boys.

Goals from Bernard in the third minute and Guilherme, in the fifth of 11 minutes of second-half stoppage time following a floodlight failure, levelled the score and took the tie to penalties.

And Atletico prevailed 3-2 after goalkeeper Victor saved from Maxi Rodriguez.

Paraguayan giants Olimpia, who eliminated Santa Fe of Colombia last night, will be Atletico's opponents next Wednesday in Asuncion and a week later in Belo Horizonte.

While Olimpia will seek their fourth title in their seventh Libertadores finals, Atletico will be appearing in the final for the very first time.

Having lost 2-0 in Argentina, Atletico Mineiro immediately went in search of the goal to reduce the deficit and needed only 180 seconds to reduce the aggregate score.

In the third minute of the game, Ronaldinho threaded a superb pass through the defence and Bernard beat Newell's keeper Nahuel Guzman with a left-foot strike.

Atletico Mineiro needed one more goal to take the tie to penalties but found it very difficult as Guzman and Newell's centre-backs were very solid during the first period.

Guzman made a superb reaction save in the 34th minute when he was wrong-footed by a deflection but changed direction to keep out Bernard's shot.

But a minute later he was caught by Diego Tardelli's trailing boot and required almost eight minutes of treatment on a head injury.

That made for nine minutes of first-half stoppage time, and 20 in total in the match after the lights went out in the 78th minute in the stand behind Atletico's goal.

Guilherme was only introduced in injury time but responded in style when he met Diego Mateo's weak headed clearance with a powerful right-foot strike into the bottom corner from 20 yards.

That set up a shoot-out and after Atletico's Alecsandro and Guilherme and Newell's pair Ignacio Scocco and Santiago Vergini all scored, the next four kicks were missed. Jo and Richarlyson missed the target for Atletico and Milton Casco and Rinaldo Cruzado responded in kind.

Ronaldinho stopped the rot and allowed Victor to clinch a final place with a diving save from Maxi.

Victor thanked the backroom staff who helped him analyse a previous shoot-out involving Newell's, against Boca Juniors.

He told UOL.com.br: "I watched those shots against Boca and I have to thank the data staff who gave me the necessary information."

He added: "We've become stronger as the campaign went on. We are stronger because of what we've done so far this year.

"We've played a great Copa Libertadores this year. We are focused on the final."

It was the last match in charge for Newell's boss Gerardo Martino and he told Fox Sports: "In the first half, Atletico Mineiro were better.

"After that, we had some opportunities but then the lights went off and a mistake when the match was under control allowed them to equalise.

"This is a very sad moment which each person can go through in different ways. I thank my players for their effort and I told them I was proud of being part of this squad."

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