Generally when people think the Copa Libertadores, they automatically consider teams in Brazil or Argentina. Whilst the two footballing powerhouses of South America have dominated the competition, there have been times when sides from other nations have shocked teams and enjoyed success. Some have had surprising amount of wins during various eras of football and other have shocked the big guns to win their titles. So just who are some of the lesser known winners of the Copa Libertadores?
6 lesser known winners of the Copa Libertadores
LDU Quito (1 win)
Ecuador’s footballing prowess has risen dramatically in the 21st century and no better sign of this was LDU Quito’s shock Libertadores win in 2008. The LDU side that fought through that campaign was made of many home grown stars including Agustin Delgado, Jose Cevallos and Patricio Urrutia. Quito’s success came very much down to an excellent defensive game built around the counter attack and knocked out bigger sides such as Estudiantes and San Lorenzo on route to the final.
In the final against Brazilian side Fluminense, Quito dominated in their home leg winning 4-2 and giving them a strong platform before heading to the Maracana for the second leg. After losing 3-1, the match went to penalties and keeper Jose Cevallos saved 3 out of 4 spot kicks to ensure that LDU became the first and only side from Ecuador to win the trophy.
Colo Colo (1 win)
Chilean football has always been overlooked but Santiago side Colo Colo have occasionally flourished on the continental scene and are another of the lesser known winners of the Copa Libertadores. After a final loss in 1973, they finally found success in 1991. Having overcome the likes of Nacional Montevideo and Boca Juniors in the previous rounds, the Chilean side faced a determined Olimpia Asuncion side in the finals.
After a stout 0-0 draw in Paraguay, Colo Colo took full advantage winning 3-0 at home in the second leg to secure the title. Ironically, the hero of the campaign was Luis Perez – a player who was only at the club on loan from arch rivals Universidad Catolica. Perez’s brace remains a defining moment in the club’s history and would see the striker become a key part of the backstage setup of the Chilean giants for much of the 2000s.
Atletico Nacional (2 wins)
Whilst several Colombian teams have either reached or won the finals, no side has been more successful than Atletico Nacional. The Medellin side were first successful in 1989 knocking out arch-rivals Millionarios in the last eight before thrashing Danubio in the semis to face a final clash with Olimpia. After losing 2-0 in the first leg, Atletico overcame the deficit and won 5-4 on penalties to secure a famous first win.
They would repeat the feat in 2016 knocking out Rosario and Sao Paulo to set up a side with Ecuador’s Independiente Del Valle. Atletico were the much fancied side with a squad including Davinson Sanchez, Franco Armani and Miguel Borja, and they showed their superiority. After a 1-1 draw in Ecuador, Atletico won 1-0 at home in the second leg to secure their success for the second time.
Olimpia (3 wins)
A powerhouse in their native Paraguay, Olimpia have always shown they have the resources to give South America’s best a run for their money. The Asuncion-based club have made 7 finals appearances altogether – winning 3 of them. The first came in 1979 where they beat Boca Juniors 2-0 on aggregate to win their first trophy at continental level. Their next success would follow in 1990 in a time where they appeared in 3 consecutive finals but only succeeded just once.
In a squad featuring club legends such as Jorge Guasch and Gabriel Gonzalez, they defeated Ecuador’s Barcelona 3-1 on aggregate to claim their next title. Their final triumph came in 2002 where they beat giants such as Boca Juniors and Gremio to face Brazil’s Sao Caetano in the final. Olimpia would come back from behind to win 2-1 on aggregate to win their 3rd title and show that the club was still a contender moving into the new millennium.
Nacional (3 wins)
Uruguayan side Nacional have always produce excellent home-grown talent and their 3 titles in the Copa Libertadores is prove of this, making them one of the most successful Copa Libertadores winners. The Montevideo side first triumphed in 1971 where they drew 1-1 all with Estudiantes after two legs. The game went to a third leg in Lima where Nacional finally triumphed winning 2-0 thanks to strikes from legendary players such as Luis Artime and Victor Esparrago.
Nacional’s next success would come almost a decade later in 1980 in a hard fought tie with Internacional. Only one goal was scored across the two legs and Waldemar Victorino’s strike in the second half proved to be enough for their next title. They would claim another title in the 1980s winning the 1988 edition too. In this campaign, they convincingly defeated Newell’s Old Boys of Argentina 3-1 on aggregate with a dominant 3-0 win in the second leg at home securing them their third and last Copa Libertadores title.
Penarol (5 wins)
Whilst not always known to fans outside of South America, Uruguayan side Penarol have a surprisingly strong record in the Copa Libertadores. The Montevideo side have won the title 5 times placing them third in the all-time Copa Libertadores winners list behind Argentine sides Boca Juniors and Independiente. The majority of their success came in the very early days of the competition winning the first two editions in 1960 and 1961.
The Penarol squad included legends such as Alberto Spencer, the all-time competition top scorer of with 54 goals and Luis Cubilla who won the Copa 4 times as both a player and manager. After another success in 1966, the Uruguayans would have to wait until the 1980s for their next titles defeating Cobreloa 1-0 in the 1982 final and then beating America de Cali in a tense 3rd playoff tie winning in the last second of extra time due to a goal from Daniel Aguirre. This late success gave them their fifth title and made them the most successful side in the competition outside of Brazil or Argentina.
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