Partidazos: Olimpia vs Grêmio, Copa Libertadores 2002



July 2002: Paraguayan side Olimpia were drawn against Brazilian team Grêmio in the semi-final of the 2002 Copa Libertadores. Grêmio were the favourites but Olimpia's chances couldn't be written off as they had eliminated holders Boca Juniors from the competition in the quarter final with this free kick froNéstor Isasi (they were the only team to eliminate Boca Juniors from the Copa Libertadores between 1999 & 2004).

Olimpia came back from 0-1 down in their home leg to establish a 3-1 lead thanks to two goals from Uruguayan midfielder Sergio Orteman then a magnificent control and shot from Miguel Ángel Benítez, which was spilled by the goalkeeper but worthy of a goal just for the control. Grêmio pulled a goal back in the 85th minute to give themselves a great chance to overturn the deficit back in Brazil.

The second leg looked to be going Grêmio's way, they scored  early in the 2nd half and then Orteman was sent off for lashing out after he was fouled but the Brazilians could not press home their advantage and the tie went to penalties, this was in the days before CONMEBOL used away goals.

The tie turned after Olimpia goalkeeper Ricardo Tavarelli saved a penalty to give the Paraguayans the chance to take the lead The following penalty was saved by the Grêmio goalkeeper but the referee rightly insisted that it be retaken as the keeper had come off his line before the ball was struck. Mauro Caballero hit the penalty again in almost exactly the same place, but . Olimpia scored the rest of their penalties and recorded a famous victory.

Olimpia went on to beat another Brazilian side, São Caetano on penalties, after coming back from 2-0 down in the final to record their hat-trick of Copa Libertadores titles.

For more great games involving South American teams, check out the rest of the Partidazo series.

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