Atletico Mineiro have won the Brazilian championship once and their state championship 42 times, but the Copa Libertadores has eluded them until Wednesday. They entered the second leg of the Copa Libertadores final trailing, 2-0, to three-time champions Olimpia and found a way to overturn that deficit, scoring twice in the second half to force extra time and, eventually, penalties. They never missed from the spot, prevailing, 4-2, in a shootout.
Ronaldinho, who was signed by CAM in 2012, joins an elite club of five other players to have won the UEFA Champions League and Copa Libertadores, as well as a list of three others who have captured both trophies and the World Cup. Atletico Mineiro are the ninth Brazilian club to win South America's continental championship, joining Corinthians, who won their first title last year.
The first half wasn't nearly as wide-open as the second half and extra time, because Olimpia attempted to defend their lead and Atletico Mineiro played a bit less frantically. Olimpia had the first big chance of the game in the 15th minute, when Wilson Pittoni won a ball to start a move, resulting in Juan Manuel Salgueiro finding Fredy Bareiro. The Olimpia forward's tame shot was easily saved, and he was subbed off for Juan Carlos Ferreyra at the half.
Jo gave Atletico Mineiro their way back into the match in the 47th minute, assisted by an unfortunate defensive error. Pittoni completely misplayed a cross into the box, inadvertently setting up Jo, who buried a shot from 12 yards out.
Both teams had plenty of chances to score between then and the end of the half, though Atletico Mineiro certainly had the better of them for a while. Leonardo Silva, who was consistently threatening for his club late in the game, hit the crossbar in the 59th minute. Olimpia keeper Martin Silva had a number of big saves, denying Leonardo Silva in the 70th minute and making a brilliant save on a deflected Ronaldinho shot in the 78th.
Ferreyra had the tie on his foot in the 82nd minute after the ball fell into his path with the goal at his mercy, but he slipped and never got a chance to attempt a shot. While that didn't cause the ensuing events at the end of the second half, it certainly proved to be the point at which Olimpia's fortunes turned.
In the 84th minute, Julio Cesar Manzur was caught in a tight spot, with Alecsandro about to beat him in a dangerous position. He bodychecked the CAM forward and was shown a second yellow card, taking his side down to 10 men. Olimpia's lack of numbers probably played a part in the equalizer, though there's no taking away from Leonardo Silva, whose goal was absolutely brilliant.
Bernard, who will be making a move to Europe shortly, set up the goal with a looping cross towards the far post. Silva rose up to meet it at a high point and placed a stunning looping header over Martin Silva that dropped just under the top corner, leveling the tie on aggregate and setting up extra time.
The first half of extra time went very much in favor of Atletico Mineiro, who looked to make the most of their man advantage and avoid a shootout. Rever hit the crossbar in the 98th minute and his effort was immediately followed up by a stinging shot by Guilherme, whose shot was saved. Eventually, CAM's attackers -- specifically Bernard, whose severe cramps made him a statue -- wore down and they were unable to attack with the same ferocity.
Olimpia went first in the penalty shootout and set the tone immediately with a poor miss. Herminio Miranda took a poor shot, directly down the middle, and Victor came up with a kick save. Every taker made their shot until Matias Gimenez struck the decisive spot kick off the post, sending the Atletico Mineiro fans into raptures.