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 Posted by ESPN Staff
Dec 3, 2009

Nine-man LDU claim incredible Copa Sudamericana win

Ecuadorian giants Liga Deportiva Universitaria have been crowned the Copa Sudamericana champions despite a 3-0 loss to Fluminense in Rio de Janeiro.

The 5-1 first leg win last week in Quito was decisive for Jorge Fossati's side to lift their third continental title in two years, having won the Copa Libertadores and the Recopa Sudamericana in 2008.

However, LDU had some nervous moments against the Brazilian side before making sure of their aggregate success.

Needing a four-goal win to take the game to extra-time, Fluminense needed an early goal to keep their hopes alive - and they made the breakthrough in the 14th minute.

Diguinho's shot from outside the box beat goalkeeper Alexander Dominguez, although the ball took a deflection off LDU's William Araujo. Fluminense could have doubled their advantage soon after - but Alan failed to connect with Dario Conca cross from the left.

Things became even more difficult for Liga as midfielder Ulises de la Cruz was sent-off for a foul on Diguinho - and two minutes before half-time they fell 2-0 down to a goal from Fred.

Fluminense maintained their momentum in the second half and they came close to a third goal in the 57th minute when Ruy headed Conca's cross against a post.

In the 71st minute the majority of fans in the Maracana started to believe the unlikely comeback could be achieved when Gum headed in a corner.

However, their chances took a knock four minutes later when captain Fred was dismissed for excessive protests to Paraguayan referee Carlos Amarilla, following a Conca foul.

Immediately, Neicer Reasco had the chance to secure the title for Liga, hitting the ball over Rafael's body - but the goalkeeper caught the ball.

With seven minutes to go, Jairo Campos was shown a red card for grabbing Alan's shirt and Liga played the final seven minutes with nine men. However, despite the efforts of Fluminense, the home side failed to score another goal and Liga were able to celebrate.

LDU now face matches against this year's Copa Libertadores winners Estudiantes, of Argentina, before playing Japanese J League Cup winners FC Tokyo in the Suruga Bank Championship.

LDU's Claudio Bieler, the tournament's leading scorer with eight goals, told Fox Sports: "The joy is huge. I want to share it with all the squad, the coaching staff and the officials. All of us made a big sacrifice. We suffered quite a lot, but we have finally won the cup. The last two years have been amazing. This is the result of the club's big effort.''

Dominguez said: "Fluminense play great football but thank God we made it, we knew it was going to be difficult. The key of success is working hard daily. To win the Copa Sudamericana is not a matter of today only.''

Edison Mendez, who scored a hat-trick in the first leg, added: "A bad result was to lose by four goals or more. The difference we made in Quito was crucial. Alongside Estudiantes, we are the best team in South America. We have to enjoy it.''

Fluminense boss Cuca could not help looking back in anger at his team's heavy defeat in the first leg.

He told SporTV: "Liga did not attack us - but they were brilliant last week. We fought a lot but have to congratulate the Liga players for being the champions.''

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