SAO PAULO (AP) – Penarol coach Diego Aguirre rued the goal his team allowed early in the second half yet was still proud of the Uruguayan club's performance in Wednesday's second leg of the Copa Libertadores final, beaten 2-1 by Santos.
Aguirre said Penarol played well throughout the match at Pacaembu Stadium, but was always going to struggle after falling behind to Neymar's 47th-minute opener.
''We controlled the first half, we played a good match,'' Aguirre said. ''But that goal was key. Santos found its game and ended deserving the win. We couldn't find a goal, it was very hard, Santos is a great team and we couldn't comeback, but I'm very proud of my players.''
Aguirre was trying to win his second Copa Libertadores title, the first as a coach. He was the hero of the team's triumph in 1987, scoring the winner in the final minute of extra time against America de Cali of Colombia.
Santos won 2-1 on aggregate - the first leg in Montevideo ended scoreless - to claim its third Copa Libertadores title, and the first since Pele led the team in the early 1960s.
''Allowing the goal early in the second half was what killed us,'' Penarol's Argentine forward Alejandro Martinuccio said.
Penarol was trying to win its sixth title. It won the first two Copa Libertadores in 1960 and '61 and added victories in '66 and '82 before the dramatic win over America de Cali.
But after that title, Penarol didn't play a significant role in South American football until the team's impressive campaign this year, when it eliminated traditionally strong teams like Velez Sarsfield of Argentina, Universidad Catolica of Chile and defending Copa Libertadores champion Internacional of Brazil.
Some players still celebrated this year's runner-up finish.
''It has a lot of value,'' midfielder Luis Aguiar said. ''It was a spectacular group, a group of friends. It's very important to have teammates who give their best on the field.''