River Plate beat Atletico Nacional to win Copa Sudamericana

BY foxsports • December 11, 2014

Argentinian giants River Plate won the Copa Sudamericana for the first time in their history with a 2-0 win at home to Atletico Nacional of Colombia.

Second-half goals from Gabriel Mercado and German Pezzella gave Los Millonarios a long-awaited first title in this tournament, making up for a decade of hurt since their loss in the 2003 finals.

Nacional goalkeeper Franco Armani made them work for the success, pulling off a string of first-half saves to frustrate Teofilo Gutierrez and Rodrigo Mora, but River made the breakthrough early in the second half.

In the 54th minute, Mercado headed in Leonardo Pisculichi's corner, and five minutes later Pezzella did likewise in a carbon copy of the opener.

The result saw Marcelo Gallardo become the first man to win a continental title with River both as a player and a coach, having been a member of the teams that claimed the Copa Libertadores title in 1996 and the Supercopa crown in 1997.

"The players understood how we needed to play a gave a big effort," he told Argentina's Channel 7. "The supporters backed us and I feel very proud for the club. I grew up as a player and now I have managed to give this joy to the club in a different role, as a coach."

Mercado added on Fox Sports: "We were aware of the challenge we faced. This is a great group of players and we totally deserve this victory."

Gabriel Mercado goes wild after opening teh scoring for River Plate against Atletico Nacional. 

River can now follow up their title with a domestic crown at the weekend, but need to beat Quilmes and hope Racing Club fail to beat Godoy Cruz.

The Copa Sudamericana title also puts River into the Recopa Sudamericana against Copa Libertadores winners San Lorenzo, as well as the Suraga Bank Championship against Japanese J-League cup winners Gamba Osaka.