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Final

Mexican club history in Libertadores

without their star Cuauhtémoc Blanco -- by an impressive 4-1 score. The second leg was in the Azteca Stadium, where América won 3-1, but were eliminated on aggregate. Boca Juniors ended up champions that year.

Emotions came back in 2001 with the best performance ever by a Mexican club in the Libertadores. That year Cruz Azul was the only Mexican League representative in the competition and they took giant steps to reach the Final. There they found defending champions Boca Juniors. The first leg was played in the Azteca, were the Argentineans won thanks to a goal by ex-Cruz Azul player Marcelo "Chelo" Delgado. Everything indicated that the Argentineans would destroy the Mexicans in the second leg, but Cruz Azul's great soccer and a Juan Francisco "Paco" Palencia goal tied the series that would be decided in the PKs. The penalties 'lottery' favored Boca this time, but Cruz Azul made history and established a precedent.

In 2002, América came back to the competition and Morelia made its debut. Both teams went through the first stage without a problem. In the Round of 16, the Michoacán team left behind Ecuadorian club Olmedo, while América did the same with Peruvians Cienciano de Cuzco. Fortune had the two Mexican teams face each other in the quarterfinals. América went through and reached the semifinals where Sao Caetano knocked them out.

Cruz Azul came back the following year, this time with Pumas de la UNAM. Both teams reached the Round of 16 where Pumas couldn't overcome the conditions in the Atacama Desert and lost against Cobreloa from Chile. Meanwhile, Cruz Azul defeated Colombian Deportivo Cali in a game that was decided from the penalty spot. In the quarterfinals, the "cementeros" lost to Santos de San Pablo, which had Diego and Robinho in its roster.

In the 2004 edition, it was Santos Laguna and América who qualify thanks to the first edition of InterLiga. América once again saw its run end by the hands of Sao Caetano in the Round of 16. Santos Laguna lost in the same round against River Plate.

An increase in the number of teams and the tournament format opened the doors for the participation of three Mexican teams. Pachuca qualified directly after fighting for the first spot against Monterrey. Tigres and Guadalajara were victorious in InterLiga 2005 and were rewarded with the other two spots. Tigres qualified directly to the group stages while "Chivas" had to fight with Cienciano in the pre-group stage where they won 8-2 on aggregate.

Guadalajara and Tigres qualified as first in their respective groups, while Pachuca qualified as second. In the next round, Tigres won against defending champions from Colombia, Once Caldas, and Guadalajara defeated Pachuca after a 1-1 tie in Hidalgo and a 3-1 victory in Jalisco. With two teams in the quarterfinals, the Mexicans were the center of attention. Tigres' dreams were over after losing against Sao Paulo who would go through to become champion. "Chivas" reached the semifinals after a unforgettable quarterfinal series against Boca Juniors. Guadalajara were implacable in Jalisco and defeated the Argentineans with a series that included a 4-0 victory in what was arguably the best game by a Mexican squad in the Libertadores. In the semis, the "rebaño" faced Atlético Paranaense, but the suspension of Adolfo Bautista in addition of the call of its international players to the Confederaciones Cup decimated the team and was too much to overcome.

During InterLiga 2006 in January Mexican clubs will fight for a chance to become continental champions in the Libertadores. Cruz Azul, Pachuca, Morelia, Monterrey, Guadalajara and Tigres will try return to the Libertadores while Veracruz, Toluca and Necaxa look forward to their respective debuts.

Juan Mesa is a contributor to InterLiga.com. This story was not subject to the approval of clubs participating in the competition or of its organizers.

COPA TOYOTA LIBERTADORES DE AMÉRICA

 
AÑO    CAMPEÓN                  SUBCAMPEÓN              RESULTADOS
1960   PEÑAROL (URU)            Olimpia (PAR)           1-0 y 1-1
1961   PEÑAROL (URU)            Palmeiras (BRA)         1-0 y 1-1
1962   SANTOS FC (BRA)          Peñarol (URU)           2-1; 2-3 y 3-0
1963   SANTOS FC (BRA)          Boca Juniors (ARG)      3-2 y 2-1
1964   INDEPENDIENTE (ARG)      Nacional (URU)          0-0 y 1-0
1965   INDEPENDIENTE (ARG)      Peñarol (URU)           1-0; 1-3 y 4-1
1966   PEÑAROL (URU)            River Plate (ARG)       2-0; 2-3 y 4-2
1967   RACING CLUB (ARG)        Nacional (URU)          0-0; 0-0 y 2-1
1968   ESTUDIANTES DE LP (ARG)  Palmeiras (BRA)         2-1; 1-3 y 2-0
1969   ESTUDIANTES DE LP (ARG)  Nacional (URU)          1-0 y 2-0
1970   ESTUDIANTES DE LP (ARG)  Peñarol (URU)           1-0 y 0-0
1971   NACIONAL (URU)           Estudiantes de LP (ARG) 0-1; 1-0 y 2-0
1972   INDEPENDIENTE (ARG)      Universitario (PER)     0-0 y 2-1
1973   INDEPENDIENTE (ARG)      Colo Colo (CHI)         1-1; 0-0 y 2-1
1974   INDEPENDIENTE (ARG)      São Paulo FC (BRA)      1-2; 2-0 y 1-0
1975   INDEPENDIENTE (ARG)      Unión Española (CHI)    0-1; 3-1 y 2-0
1976   CRUZEIRO (BRA)           River Plate (ARG)       4-1; 1-2 y 3-2
1977   BOCA JUNIORS (ARG)       Cruzeiro (BRA)    1-0; 0-1 y 0-0 (5-4)
1978   BOCA JUNIORS (ARG)       Deportivo Cali (COL)    0-0 y 4-0
1979   OLIMPIA (PAR)            Boca Juniors (ARG)      2-0 y 0-0
1980   NACIONAL (URU)           Internacional (BRA)     0-0 y 1-0
1981   FLAMENGO (BRA)           Cobreloa (CHI)          2-1; 0-1 y 2-0
1982   PEÑAROL (URU)            Cobreloa (CHI)          0-0 y 1-0
1983   GRÊMIO (BRA)             Peñarol (URU)           1-1 y 2-1
1984   INDEPENDIENTE (ARG)      Grêmio (BRA)            1-0 y 0-0
1985   ARGENTINOS JUNIORS (ARG) América (COL)     1-0; 0-1 y 1-1 (5-4)
1986   RIVER PLATE (ARG)        América (COL)           2-1 y 1-0
1987   PEÑAROL (URU)            América (COL)           0-2; 2-1 y 1-0
1988   NACIONAL (URU)           Newell's Old Boys (ARG) 0-1 y 3-0
1989   ATLÉTICO NACIONAL (COL)  Olimpia (PAR)           0-2 y 2-0 (5-4)
1990   OLIMPIA (PAR)            Barcelona SC (ECU)      2-0 y 1-1
1991   COLO COLO (CHI)          Olimpia (PAR)           0-0 y 3-0
1992   SÃO PAULO FC (BRA)       Newell's Old Boys (ARG) 0-1 y 1-0 (3-2)
1993   SÃO PAULO FC (BRA)       Univ. Católica (CHI)    5-1 y 0-2
1994   VÉLEZ SARSFIELD (ARG)    São Paulo FC (BRA)      1-0 y 0-1 (5-3)
1995   GRÊMIO (BRA)             Atlético Nacional (COL) 3-1 y 1-1
1996   RIVER PLATE (ARG)        América (COL)           0-1 y 2-0
1997   CRUZEIRO (BRA)           Sporting Cristal (PER)  0-0 y 1-0
1998   VASCO DA GAMA (BRA)      Barcelona SC (ECU)      2-0 y 2-1
1999   PALMEIRAS (BRA)          Deportivo Cali (COL)    0-1 y 2-1 (4-3)
2000   BOCA JUNIORS (ARG)       Palmeiras (BRA)         2-2 y 0-0 (4-2)
2001   BOCA JUNIORS (ARG)       Cruz Azul (México)      1-0 y 0-1 (3-1)
2002   OLIMPIA (PAR)            São Caetano (BRA)       0-1 y 2-1 (4-2)
2003   BOCA JUNIORS (ARG)       Santos FC (BRA)         2-0 y 3-1
2004   ONCE CALDAS (COL)        Boca Juniors (ARG)      0-0 y 1-1 (2-0)
2005   SÃO PAULO FC (BRA)       Atl. Paranaense (BRA)   1-1 y 4-0

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