1997's Copa Conmebol was a tournament that shod to perfection Brazil's Atlético Mineiro. It was the only team in history to win on more than one occasion (2) and was the team that played in the most finals (3). They were the champion of the first edition held in 1992 and again in December 17th, 1997 for the second time, in a match against Lanus which ended in a 1-1 draw, but had the advantage of the first leg game in which they had thrashed the Buenos Aires' team 4-1.
It all began on Sept. 3rd in Venezuela against Portuguesa, who Atletico conclusively defeated 4-1, with a goal from Jorginho and three from Valdir, who gave the first sign of his scoring power, which eventually would make him the top scorer of the tournament. The rematch game ended in a scoreless draw in Belo Horizonte.
In the quarterfinals they faced the always tough team, Colombia's América de Cali. The first leg game was in Colombia and Atletico scored a decisive victory in one of their best performances. Atletico went ahead with a score from Marques, but then things leveled when Leonardo Fabio Moreno, 12 minutes later scored to bring the game to a 1-1 draw. The talented Jorginho though, had the winning goal. In the return game there was suspense, because the Colombians opened the scoring with a goal from James Cardona. When the first half came to an end, Edgar made it 1-1, which would stay as the end result.
On October 22nd, Atlético Mineiro traveled to Lima to face Universitario and again demonstrated their ability while playing away, winning 2-0 with goals from Valdir and Jorginho, who were the great figures of the competition, along with amazing goalkeeper,Taffarel, who was with the club since 1995, when he returned from his Italian tour. The return game a week later marked their biggest win in the competition: 4-0 (Valdir 2 - Marques - Cairo).
At the end, in the final, awaited Lanús, who had also done an excellent tournament and had a very good squad, and had added the experience of Oscar Ruggeri, who would leave football at the end of that season. The first game was in Buenos Aires and the local team took the lead with a goal by Ariel Ibagaza, but Bruno matched things up at 42 minutes of play, with a shot that eluded goalkeeper ROMOLI. At 55 minutes, Jorginho put in a cross shot and Serrizuela, in his attempt to clear, signed a goal against his own team and just five minutes later came the third score with a shot from Hernani. Lanús despaired at the disadvantage. The score ended with a lapidary 4-1 with Valdir closing the scoring account. The ending was forgettable, with a tremendous brawl between players and assistants from both clubs.
Atletico arrived on December 17th and sealed their title, which they had practically achieved it in the first leg game away. The rematch in Belo Horizonte ended 1-1 (Jorginho) and unleashed all the euphoria of his supporters, and accomplishing a new international achievement, in this case with the technical direction of Emerson Leao.
Atlético Mineiro: Taffarel; Bruno, Sandro Barbosa, Neguete, Dede; Roberto, Hernani, Jorginho; Marques, Valdir, Almir (Edgar). Coach: Emerson Leao.
Lanús: Rodrigo Burela; Gabriel Ramón Andrés Bressán, Mariano Fernández Martín Román; Leonardo Mas (Silvio González), Daniel Cravero, Claudio Huertas, Sebastian Clotet; Enría Claudio Marcelo Trimarchi (Hernán Estate). Coach: Mario Gomez
Eduardo Bolaños - CONMEBOL.com