The painful memories of defeat in the 2019 Copa Sudamericana final defeat were erased on Friday evening in San Juan as Colón finally got their hands on a first major title with victory over Racing Club to lift the Copa de la Liga.
No one could argue it wasn’t deserved. The Sabalero topped their group in the first phase, edged Talleres on penalties in the quarter-finals and then took down both Avellaneda giants en route to glory. Juan Antonio Pizzi had hoped his defensive Racing Club side could once again grind their way to victory but three second half goals clinched it for Colón.
“There is no amount of money worth this happiness, glory is not bought,” said talisman Luis Miguel Rodríguez at full-time. The inspirational Pulga limped off injured just after the hour mark with Colón leading one-nil but ended the campaign as joint-leading scorer and with most assists.
“Two years ago I arrived, I had left my comfort zone in Tucumán, a place that feels like home, and I landed here, they welcomed me in the same way as in Tucumán. First year: final of the Copa Sudamericana; second year: champions.
“To the people of Colón, enjoy it a lot because they waited 116 years for this.
“I waited many years, I lost in a final with Atlético Tucumán against River, and against Independiente del Valle [in the Copa Sudamericana], I couldn’t wait any longer. I was champion in the lower leagues, I was promoted, but never in the First Division.”
Pulga Rodríguez has been the star of the Colón side but required the talents of his able supporting cast to down Racing.
After a tense first half in which Racing once again seemed content to keep things as tight as possible, the game sprang to life. Just before the hour mark the excellent Rodrigo Aliendro broke forward from midfield, found space in the six-yard box and stabbed Facundo Mura’s low cross past Gastón Gómez.
The sight of Pulga leaving the pitch soon after could have thrown Colón yet a brilliant interchange between Cristian Bernardi and Nicolás Leguizamón sent the former through on goal and an exquisite finish over Gómez doubled the lead.
With Racing now finally throwing caution to the wind in search a route back into the game, Colón sealed victory as Alexis Castro kept his cool to stroke a third into the bottom corner.
There were no supporters in San Juan but Colón were champions. For those who sang ‘Soy Sabalero‘ with tears in their eyes in Asunción less than two years ago it was a moment that will never be forgotten. For the first time ever Colón are Argentine champions, in 2022 those same supporters can enjoy Copa Libertadores football and whether or not the likes of Pulga or manager Eduardo Domínguez will still be there doesn’t matter now. Nothing can possibly dampen the celebrations.