BOGOTÁ, Dec 22 (Reuters) – Deportivo Cali was crowned champion of the closing tournament of the Colombian soccer league on Wednesday by defeating Tolima 2-1 as a visitor in the second leg of the final, a result that allowed it to reach its tenth title and qualify for the Copa Libertadores de América.
The goals that gave Cali the victory were converted by strikers Jhon Vásquez at minute 58 and Harold Preciado, from a penalty shot, at minute 74.
Tolima opened the scoring in the 14th minute through Julián Quiñones with a header after taking a corner kick.
Despite being down on the scoreboard, the new Colombian league champion did not give up, attacked, managed the game and the ball, against an opponent who played on the counter attack and could have extended the advantage.
Cali controlled Tolima and under the guidance of the experienced Teófilo Gutiérrez managed to reverse the score and reach the title.
In the first leg, Cali had drawn 1-1, making the aggregate score 3-2 in favor of the sugar team.
The second leg was played at the Manuel Murillo Toro stadium in the city of Ibagué, the capital of the department of Tolima, before more than 25,000 spectators.
Cali, coached by Venezuelan coach Rafael Dudamel, had won its last Colombian league title in the 2015 opening tournament. Dudamel was also champion with Cali as a player in 1998.
In addition to Cali, Colombia will be represented in the group stage of the Copa Libertadores by Tolima, champion of the opening tournament. Millonarios and Nacional will play a preliminary phase in the maximum continental football tournament at club level.
(Report by Luis Jaime Acosta)