Twenty-nine years have passed since that day on December 14, 1986, when River Plate was the best team in the world after beating Steaua Bucharest 1-0 at the National Stadium in Tokyo.
No doubt that 1986 win has left an indelible mark on the Argentine institution. In the month of March, and after nearly five seasons, the club won the local tournament, 10 points ahead of their closest pursuers. And in October they lifted the Copa Libertadores trophy.
With the Libertadores title River Plate won the right to travel to Japan to play the Copa Intercontinental against Steaua Bucharest, the surprise winner over Barcelona in the final of the Champions League. That December 14 was cloudy and cold in the Japanese capital, but the team led by Hector "Bambino" Veira was determined and put their faith in their style of play: a solid defense, a dynamic midfield and speed when counterattacking.
And thanks to their speed they scored the goal that gave them the glory. It was after 28 minutes when Norberto Alonso quickly took a free kick to find Antonio Alzamendi, who got behind the defenders entering from the right. His effort hit the post, bounced off the keeper and the Uruguayan striker headed the rebound into the back of the net. From that point on the game played right into River's hands as they let their opponent have the ball so they could go for the steal and hit on the counterattack.
The minutes passed and the final whistle of the referee started the party for the River Plate fans. The club will try to repeat that night so long ago this year when they play the final against Barcelona on December 29.
River Plate team for the final: Nery Pumpido; Jorge Gordillo, Nelson Gutiérrez, Oscar Ruggeri, Alejandro Montenegro; Héctor Enrique, Américo Gallego, Roque Alfaro (Daniel Sperandío); Norberto Alonso; Antonio Alzamendi, Juan Funes.