COPA LIBERTADORES REVIEW – Group Stage Week Two – 19th-21st February 2013

2SouthAmerica

Peñarol the only side to make it two wins from two, Deportivo Lara impress against Newell’s and Fluminense lacklustre against Grêmio

Group 1

Toluca (Mex) 2 (Tejada 22, Benitez 52)

Nacional (Uru) 3 (Sánchez 47, 55, Alonso 57)

Nacional claimed their first win as they put the sword to Toluca with three goals in a ten-minute spell in the second half. Toluca took the lead twice but were put back in their place by the Uruguayans in a crazy 15 minutes after half-time.

The Mexicans took the lead after Marvin Cabrera put in an expert cross for Luis Tejada to glance home a header ensuring Toluca took a 1-0 lead into the break. The momentum of the tie swung back and forth in that gripping fifteen minutes. Nacional firstly equalised two minutes after the break, as Vicente Sánchez pounced on an awful spillage from Toluca goalkeeper Alfredo Talavera, smashing the ball into the roof of the net. Carlos De Pena was the man who fired in a low cross that Talavera just could not hold onto.

Toluca would bounce back to take the lead again only five minutes later through Edgar Benítez. Benítez was a constant menace to Boca Juniors last week and Nacional should have done their homework on him but he was allowed space to calmly finish past Jorge Bava. Resilience helped Nacional last week as they recovered from a two-goal deficit to snatch a point against Barcelona and this week they turned a defeat into victory. Sánchez scored his second in the 55th minute by springing onto the ball after it ricocheted into his path from the wall following Juan Albín’s free-kick. Then, Ivan Alonso completed the goalscoring drama in the 57th minute, curling his effort into the far corner after he was afforded far too much space out on the right.

Toluca and Nacional could well be the two teams that qualify from this group as Boca Juniors looked disjointed in their opening game to their campaign. Both teams have the ability to score goals too which could prove crucial.

—–

Group 2

Tigre (Arg) 0

Libertad (Par) 2 (Aquino (pen) 54, González 88)

Two second half goals from Libertad killed off Tigre’s hopes of achieving a result in their first ever match in the group stages. Sergio Aquino scored the opener from the penalty spot after Alejandro Donatti was given a straight red card for a handball on the line. Libertad wrapped up the victory with a marvellous free-kick two minutes from time from Jorge González. See both the goals including the brilliant free-kick below:

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Group 4

Peñarol (Uru) 1 (Olivera 68)

Emelec (Ecu) 0

Peñarol made it two wins out of two by scraping a narrow victory over their visitors from Ecuador. There was not much in the way of chances in this one but the home side deserved the win overall, offering slighly more than Emelec in attack.

Fabian Estoyanoff was the man at the focal point of Peñarol’s attacks and he was the first man to really test either keeper. His teammates continuously tried to find him out on the right and achieved some success as he forced Esteban Dreer to save at his near post with his legs.

Peñarol had the majority of the possession but had to be careful of Emelec on the counter and were given a warning as Marcos Caicedo hit the post late in the first half. The second half was a slightly more open affair and the Uruguayan’s broke the deadlock with just over twenty minutes left. Estoyanoff was the creator as his ball across the six-yard box allowed Juan Olivera to tap in. Enrique Bologna also produced a magnificent acrobatic save late on to ensure Peñarol would leave with the full three points.

—–

Vélez Sarsfield (Arg) 3 (Insúa 25, Rescaldini 35, Puch (og) 69)

Deportes Iquique (Chi) 0

Vélez recovered from their defeat to Emelec last week to brush aside Deportes Iquique. Some slack defending from the Chileans allowed Federico Insúa to guide the ball home into the bottom corner for their first in the 25th minute. Deportes Iquique had every right to complain about the second Vélez goal ten minutes later. Ezequiel Rescaldini found himself in a blatant offside position as he latched onto Ivan Bella’s through ball. He neatly finished past Rodrigo Naranjo however the goal should never have stood.

Iquique sat back and allowed the pressure to come onto them for the majority of the game and they were punished by a third and final goal in the second half. An in-swinging free-kick from Fernando Gago saw Edson Puch head into his own net at the near post to finish off  Los Dragones Celestes.

—–

Group 5

Millonarios (Col) 0

Tijuana (Mex) 1 (Ruíz 62)

Millonarios made their return to the Copa Libertadores after a 16-year absence but suffered a 1-0 loss to Tijuana, a side making their debut appearance in the competition. The only goal of the game came courtesy of Richard Ruíz as he drilled a volley into the bottom corner past the reach of Luis Delgado in the Millonarios goal.

—–

San José (Bol) 1 (Saucedo 61)

Corinthians (Bra) 1 (Guerrero 6)

The reigning Copa Libertadores champions kicked off the defence of their title in unconvincing fashion as they drew away in Oruro. The Brazilians did take the lead early on through Peruvian forward, Paolo Guerrero, as he successfully dispatched a ball across the area from adventurous full-back, Fábio Santos. Bolivia is always a tough place for visiting teams to go to and this theory was proved correct as San José drew level shortly after the hour mark. Ignacio García curled in a cross at the far post for Carlos Saucedo to prod home as both team shared the spoils.

—–

Group 6

Cerro Porteño (Par) 0

Real Garcilaso (Per) 1 (Ramúa 88)

Real Garcilaso recorded their first-ever victory in the Copa Libertadores after an impressive one-goal victory away in Paraguay. Cerro Porteño had been caught on the break by the Peruvian side and despite a save from Diego Barreto, the ball would fall to Alfredo Ramúa to tap in for a famous win. Cerro Porteño have left themselves a lot to do in their remaining four matches after losing their opening two games. Real Garcilaso on the other hand will be pleasantly surprised by their points tally of four from two, after many people had quoted them as being the whipping boys of the group.

—–

Santa Fe (Col) 1 (Valencia 15)

Deportes Tolima (Col) 1 (Andrade 5)

Honours were even in a meeting between two Colombian sides in Santa Fe. Deportes Tolima opened the scoring in the 5th minute with Andres Andrade smartly turning inside before finding the net. Santa Fe ensured neither team would depart with the bragging rights thanks to a bullet free-kick into the bottom corner from John Valencia.

—–

Group 7

Olimpia (Par) 3 (Salgueiro 2, Ortiz 9, Candia 48)

Universidad De Chile (Chi) 0

Uni De Chile have not made a confident start to their year and Olimpia inflicted more damage to the Chilean side with a comfortable home victory. Two goals in the opening ten minutes deflated the visitors and gave Olimpia hope for their campaign after last week’s defeat to Newell’s. Juan Salgueiro opened the scoring in the 2nd minute with a thunderbolt of a shot past Jhonny Herrera in the Uni De Chile goal. Only 9 minutes were on the clock when Olimpia doubled their lead as Richard Ortiz saw his header creep in from a corner.

Some awful defending from Pablo Magalhaes gifted Salustino Candia the chance to finish past Herrera only three minutes in the second period with Olimpia coasting to victory. Magalhaes saw his night end on another sorry note as he received a straight red card with twenty minutes left.

—–

Deportivo Lara (Ven) 2 (Gómez 6, Fernández 50)

Newell’s Old Boys (Arg) 1 (Cáceres 90)

Deportivo Lara upset the odds to record a fairly comfortable victory over more prestigious Argentinian opponents, Newell’s Old Boys. The Venezuelan side were happy to sit on their two-goal lead during the second half as they successfully soaked up the Newell’s pressure.

The home side set out their stall from the off by pressing high up the pitch whilst creating the early running themselves. Deportivo Lara   pinned Newell’s back within the opening five minutes with successive corners and the early commitment paid off in the 6th minute. After seeing Ignacio Scocco’s chip over Alan Liebeskind float just over the bar, Lara would go straight down the other end to score. It all came about thanks to a slip from veteran defender, Gabriel Heinze, with Zamir Valoyes capitalising on this to race away down the right. Valoyes then put in a low cross into the danger area and despite the attempts of Pablo Pérez and keeper Nahuel Guzmán to clear, Jesus Gómez slotted home into an empty net.

With Newell’s clearly rattled, Deportivo Lara hurried Guzmán to clear up pitch on three or four occasions showing that they would not be looking to sit on their early lead. Newell’s came into the game more as the half wore on and almost restored parity though the quick reactions of Liebeskind denied them. Victor Figueroa saw his shot tipped over from close range as Newell’s looked to gain a footprint in the contest.

Newell’s were forced to make the most of their opportunities on a pitch that was cutting up badly but they were both wasteful and all too predictable in the first half. Almost the entirety of their attacks were formulated down the right wing as they constantly looked for Juan Vieyra. Deportivo Lara had Vieyra in their pocket and also managed to deal with Scocco whenever he ventured out to the right. Another key component to the victory was the fact that Lara also managed to keep experienced midfielder, Maxi Rodríguez quiet throughout the game.

Whenever Newell’s did attack down the left they were a bit more of a threat and they were almost rewarded with a freak goal. Milton Casco made his way up from left-back to deliver a cross into the box and it took a wicked deflection forcing Liebeskind to unconventionally flap at the ball, fortunately to safety. Ignacio Scocco was trying his hardest for the visitors with some intelligent dribbling but the shots on target from Newell’s were few and far between.

Shortly after the second half began, Deportivo Lara doubled their lead with a superb strike from Marlon Fernández. Gómez teed him up in the middle of the park and he unleashed a long-range effort that swerved enough to evade the reach of Guzmán. A golazo definitely worth taking a peek at:

After Depor had secured a two-goal cushion they were more than happy to sit on their lead. They produced a solid defensive display in the second half and made it difficult for Newell’s to produce any threatening opportunities. The away side did manage to pull a goal back though it would prove to be too late to salvage any kind of result. Cáceres scored in the second minute of injury time, firing in a sweet strike into the bottom corner from just outside the box. Scocco was to be denied by the feet of Liebeskind in the final minute of injury time but Deportivo Lara held on. Both sides now have three points from their opening two games in what is likely to be a tight group.

Deportivo Lara: Liebeskind, Mosquera, Maidana, Rey, Álvarez, Fernández, Mea Vitali, Gómez (Morales 80), Suanno (Colina 73), Castellín (Martínez 85), Valoyes

Newell’s Old Boys: Guzmán, Casco, Heinze, Vergini, Cáceres, Villalba, Pérez (Urruti 75), Figueroa (Orzán 89), Vieyra (Isnaldo 61), Rodríguez, Scocco

—–

Group 8 

Huachipato (Chi) 1 (Aceval 64)

Caracas (Ven) 3 (Curé 13, Peña 45, 54)

Huachipato were brought back down to earth with a bang from their victory over Grêmio as Caracas picked up their first points of the competition. Caracas took advantage of some hopeless defending from Claudio Muñoz for their first, as his attempt to deal with a long ball let in Dani Curé who finished past Nery Veloso, despite the keeper getting a hand to the shot. Caracas bagged their second after some route-one football carved apart Huachipato. Curé saw his vicious effort parried away at the near post before setting up Ángelo Peña to make it 2-0.

Los Acereros were all over the place at the back and it was no surprise to see Caracas score a third early in the second half. Romulo Otero took two defenders out of the game before Peña scored his second with a lovely lobbed finish over Veloso. Huachipato did score a consolation goal with Miguel Aceval’s free-kick somehow evading everyone to creep into the far corner, though this made no dent to the final scoreline.

—–

Fluminense (Bra) 0

Grêmio (Bra) 3 (Bruno Vieiera (og) 33, André Santos 55, Vargas 69)

Grêmio brushed aside their woes from last week’s surprise defeat to Huachipato to convincingly beat Fluminense. The home side looked unusually out of sorts in this all-Brazilian clash as they did very little to threaten Dida in the Grêmio goal.

The first half really was a drab affair as both sides seemingly had agreed to set a low tempo for proceedings. There were occasional glimpses of attacking endeavour as Eduardo Vargas flashed the ball across the Fluminense area but there was nobody there to poke the ball home. Grêmio did start to pass the ball around nicely as the half progressed though this was hardly anything to excite the spectactors.

The game desperately needed a goal and thankfully one arrived in the 33rd minute. Alarm bells should have been ringing for the Fluminense defenders after Elano crafted an excellent in-swinging corner, almost catching out Diego Cavalieri but fortunately he managed to tip the ball over his crossbar. Take two for Elano and this time the reward would come. Bruno Vieira, put under pressure by Hernan Barcos, backheaded the ball into his own net at the near post to delight the travelling supporters. Finally we had something to make the rest of the game more worthwhile.

The game started to become more stretched in the second period and it was long overdue. Grêmio attempted to utilise the pace of Chilean forward, Eduardo Vargas, to get in behind the Fluminense defensive line all evening to no success, but their persistence finally paid off in the 55th minute. Once free to roam, Vargas delivered a lovely cross for Barcos and after some neat control he compounded the misery on Bruno Vieira by turning the right-back inside and out, before forcing a save from Cavalieri. The rebound fell to Andre Santos who applied the simplest of finishes. Replays did suggest the decision to award the goal was a controversial one however as Santos was offside when Barcos shot.

Fluminense failed to test Dida in any way throughout the whole 90 minutes and looked lacklustre in comparison to the team that romped away to the Brasilerao title last year. They were forced to give up the chase with just over twenty minutes left to play as Vargas slotted home Grêmio’s third. Barcos slipped a delightful pass through to Vargas and the man on loan from Napoli slotted home into the far corner from the angle. Elano also hit the post in the latter stages with a wonderful effort as Fluminense were cut open once again.

The result at the Engenhão leaves this group nicely poised with all four teams winning one and losing one. Next up, Fluminense face a trip to Huachipato and Grêmio host Caracas.

Fluminense: Diego Cavalieri, Carlinhos, Leandro Euzébio, Anderson, Bruno Vieira, Jean, Edinho, Wagner (Deco 46), Rafael Sóbis (Samuel Rosa 64), Wellington Nem (Thiago Neves 63), Fred

Grêmio: Dida, André Santos, Cris, Werley, Para, Souza (Adriano 81), Fernando, Zé Roberto, Elano (Marco Antônio 79), Vargas (Welliton 83), Barcos

James Hunt

James runs southamericanfootballblog.wordpress.com and click on his name to follow him on Twitter

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