There are situations in football games that seem taken out of a story or a movie. Those same circumstances that we see at the movies or read in a book, are normally fictional. But football is so wonderful that you could have both. That is exactly what occurred on Tuesday, December 19th, 1995 at the home field of Argentina's Rosario Central, where the home team won the 1995's Copa Conmebol against Brazil's Atlético Mineiro, consummating an incredible comeback.
A week before, at the first leg game which was played in Brazil, the local team showed their obvious superiority by defeating Rosario Central 4-0 with goals from Ezio, Cairo, Robero and Paulo Silva. As one would logically assume, and seemed fair to say that the series was over, end of story, fat lady sang, but with football there is always a surprise around the corner, even tough in this case everything seemed a sealed deal.
It seemed that the crushing defeat overshadowed the excellent work that the team had done in previous matches to get them to the final, and directed by ever so experience Angel Tulio Zof. Rosario Central up to that time was having an extraordinary campaign, winning six games from their debut to the semifinals: 3-1 and 2-1 against Defensor Sporting, against Cobreloa 2-0 and 3-1 and 2-0 and 3-1 Atletico Colegiales.
Under the "Giant Arroyito" stadium that night was sensational, with fans conveying to their players a renewed wisdom. At 22 minutes the score opened when Ruben Da Silva defined a shot inside the net, after a centered shot from Ordonez. Fifteen minutes later came the second score with a cannonball free kick from Carbonari (one of the defensive props) which slipped from Taffarel hands. The first half was not going to end without another memorable moment: the great Ruben Da Silva took the ball to the edge of the area and made a pass that enabled Martin Cardetti to define by sending a right low shot which beat the goalkeeper. At that point the game was 3-0 and an illusion began to grow.
All imagined that during the second half the home team would overpower once again their opponent, but Brazi's Mineiro knew they had to remain calm and play a systematic counterattack, with the talent of Doriva, letting the nerves devour the Argentine crowd. But the feat came with just two minutes remaining, when the legendary Omar Palma sent a cross shot from the penalty area which Carbonari headed in with an amazing jump, which blew up half the city of Rosario into pandemonium. They had accomplish the unthinkable, the feat of winning by four goals and force a penalty shootout.
And there, with the stadium turned into a boiler, Rosario Central embraced the glory because the first two kickers from Mineiro (Doriva and Leandro) steered their executions far wide and missed, leaving the paved road to the title, which culminated with a penalty shot from none other than Ruben Da Silva. It was the first Copa Conmebol Tournament Championship for Argentinean football, which will be remembered forever as the unparalleled feat of Rosario Central.
Rosario Central: Roberto Bonano: Diego Ordonez (Cristian Colusso), Horacio Carbonari, Federico Lussenhoff, Patrick Graf; Eduardo Coudet (Cristian Daniele), Omar Palma, Pablo Sanchez, Raul Gordillo (Mario Pobersnik); Martin Cardetti, Ruben Da Silva. Coach: Angel Tulio Zof.
Atlético Mineiro: Taffarel; Dinho, Ademir, Ronaldo, Paulo Roberto; Eder Lopes, Carlos (Dede), Doriva, Leandro (Gutenberg); Ronaldo, Ezio (Euller). Coach: Procopio Cardoso.
Eduardo Bolaños / conmebol.com