COPA LIBERTADORES REVIEW – Group Stage Week Three – 26th-28th February 2013

2SouthAmerica

Bernard show destroys Arsenal plus round-up from all the games…

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Group 1

BARCELONA (ECU) 1 (Arroyo (pen) 90)

BOCA JUNIORS (ARG) 2 (Martínez 59, Pérez 63)

Boca Juniors recovered from their slip-up at home to Toluca to chalk up the first points of their Libertadores campaign. The away side overcame a fantastic atmosphere at the Estadio Monumental Banco Pichincha, thanks to two goals within five minutes.

Boca’s first goal came just shy of the hour mark thanks to the sharp anticipation of Juan Martínez. Guillermo Burdisso headed towards goal from a corner, and Martínez escaped the attention of two Barcelona players to lash home from close range. Only four minutes later, the visitors would be two to the good, again from a set-piece. Claudio Pérez headed in a magnificent in-swinging free-kick from Nicolas Colazo leaving Barcelona keeper, Maximo Banguera with no chance. Pérez powerfully headed the ball into the ground with the bounce deceiving the Ecuadorian No. 1.

Barcelona did manage to get themselves onto the scoresheet in injury time with a penalty, but it proved to be nothing more than a consolation. Clemente Rodríguez poorly timed a tackle on Juan Paredes, bringing the winger down just inside the area. Up stepped Michael Arroyo to pull one back however Boca would hold on to win. Definitely a confidence boosting victory for Carlos Bianchi’s men.

Standings:

1 Nacional (Pld 2 Pts 4)

2 Toluca (Pld 2 Pts 3)

3 Boca (Pld 2 Pts 3

4 Barcelona (Pld 2 Pts 1)

———

 

Group 2

SPORTING CRISTAL (PER) 2 (Sheput 30, Lobatón 58)

TIGRE (ARG) 0

Tigre fell to their second successive defeat this time away in Peru, as they are seemingly failing to deal with the step up in competitiveness from the Copa Sudamericana to the  Copa Libertadores. Sporting Cristal picked up their first points of the campaign as they recovered from their loss to Palmeiras two weeks ago.

They took the lead thanks to a superb free-kick from Renzo Sheput in the 30th minute. Sheput delivered an exquisite left-footed effort into the top corner of Damian Albil’s net with the Tigre keeper left rooted to the spot. Albil had an eventful evening as he was the man responsible for Sporting Cristal’s second goal. His punch away from a cross into his box lacked conviction, allowing Carlos Lobatón to volley the ball into the net from the edge of the box. Albil was also sent off in the 88th minute for a foul on Junior Ross outside his area, which also prevented a clear goalscoring opportunity in the process. Lobatón’s second of the tournament that was enough to wrap up victory for the Peruvian’s, as Tigre make look likely to struggle in this group.

LIBERTAD (PAR) 2 (Velázquez 11, Pedro Benítez 55)

PALMEIRAS (BRA) 0

Libertad followed up their 2-0 success over Tigre last week with a win by the same scoreline over their Brazilian opponents. The 2012 Paraguayan Clausura champions took only 11 minutes to take the lead, with Pablo Velázquez getting in front of his defender to head home a cross from José Núñez. On numerous occasions, Palmeiras allowed Libertad the width to craft some excellent crosses into the box and this would be their undoing for the host’s second goal. This time Pedro Benítez rose high at the far post to head in Miguel Samudio’s ball into the box.

Next up for Libertad is another home tie against Sporting Cristal and Palmeiras will hope to get back amongst the points as they travel to Argentina, to face Tigre.

Standings:

1 Libertad (Pld 2 Pts 6)

2 Sporting Cristal (Pld 2 Pts 3)

3 Palmeiras (Pld 2 Pts 3)

4 Tigre (Pld 2 Pts 0)

———-

Group 3

ARSENAL DE SARANDI (ARG) 2 (Furch 2, Aguirre 41)

ATLÉTICO MINEIRO (BRA) 5 (Bernard 8, 54, 59, Diego Tardelli 29, Jô 36)

Atlético Mineiro produced a scintillating display to cruise to victory over Arsenal thanks to a magnificent hat-trick from Bernard. The exceptionally talented winger produced one of his finest displays to dismantle the Argentinian hosts.

The match did not begin the way Atlético Mineiro had intended however, conceding only two minutes in. Leonardo Silva’s headed clearance fell to Nicolas Aguirre and his through-ball escaped any form of an interception to unleash Julio Furch. The Arsenal frontman broke free to score past Victor in the far corner despite the goalkeeper’s best efforts to produce a save.

A moment of brilliance from Ronaldinho created the goal that restored parity between the sides only six minutes later. The Brazil international found Bernard with a delightful chipped ball into the area, and Bernard finished in clinical fashion past Cristian Campestrini.

The sides were pretty evenly matched after the Atlético Mineiro equaliser although Arsenal were denied on two occasions, one by an excellent last-ditch clearance from Rever, the other seeing a Furch headed effort disallowed for a push. Arsenal complained profusely regarding the decision not to award the goal and their frustration will have increased as the visitors took the lead shortly afterwards. Diego Tardelli completed a sharp passing move to slot home a centered pass from Leandro Donizete in the 29th minute, with Atlético Mineiro beginning to gain a strangehold on the contest.

It did not take long for the visitors to make it 3-1 as Arsenal began to fade away from this clash. Atlético Mineiro made excellent use of the width afforded to them as full-back, Júnior Cesar whipped in a cross that dropped perfectly for Jô to sidefoot into the net. Credit must go to Arsenal as they did not let their heads drop, clawing a goal back in the 41st minute. Aguirre provided a wonderful golazo as he curled a free-kick right into the top corner. Victor dived in vain but in truth he had no chance of saving the effort.

The entertainment did not stop before the half-time whistle as Bernard came agonisingly close to restoring his side’s two-goal lead. He skilfully took Lisandro López out of the equation before his curling effort narrowly drifted the wrong side of the post.

The second half really was the Bernard show as he scored his second and third goals to complete his hat-trick before the hour mark. He pounced on an awful touch from Hugo Nervo to smash home his second after 54 minutes. Bernard’s pace clearly put Nervo off his stride as he prepared to clear the ball away, but instead the defender made a complete hash of it. The hat-trick goal came courtesy of Bernard’s quick anticipation, as he reacted first to a rebounded save from Campestrini, after Jô troubled the keeper with an angled shot.

Atlético Mineiro looked relatively comfortable after scoring their fifth though they did miss out on an opportunity to make it six from the penalty spot. Ronaldinho fired his penalty against the crossbar in the 88th minute after a cynical foul on him by Diego Braghieri. It did not matter though for the visitors and they could be serious challengers for the Copa Libertadores title on this showing.

Arsenal De Sarandi: Campestrini, Cuesta, Braghieri, López, Nervo, Benedetto (Céliz 82), Ortiz (Casais 81), Marcone, Carbonero, Aguirre (Rolle 60), Furch

Atlético Mineiro: Victor, Júnior Cesar, Réver, Leonardo Silva, Marcos Rocha, Leandro Donizete, Pierre (Gilberto Silva 83), Bernard (Luan 86), Ronaldinho, Diego Tardelli (Richarlyson 69), Jô

Highlights

 

SÃO PAULO (BRA) 2 (Osvaldo 43, Luís Fabiano 80)

THE STRONGEST (BOL) 1 (Barrera 21)

São Paulo scraped a hard-fought victory over The Strongest as they found it hard to break down their compact defence. It took the hosts 80 minutes to establish a lead over their Bolivian opponents after going a goal behind halfway through the first half. São Paulo gained their first win of the competition after falling to defeat against Atlético Mineiro, in the first round of fixtures.

The Strongest almost fell behind in the opening two minutes but their blushes were saved by a fantastic save from Daniel Vaca. After Osvaldo drew the challenge following a fine run down the centre, Rogério Ceni curled his free-kick around the wall and the effort looked as if it would creep into the corner, but Vaca was equal to it. São Paulo played with plenty of width in the early stages but The Strongest soaked the play up well by getting men behind the ball. Early signs showed The Strongest would provide a sterner test for São Paulo than their Bolivian rivals, Bolívar, did a few weeks ago. Bolívar visited to the Morumbi to receive a 5-0 hiding at the hands of the Brazilians.

After resisting the early pressure from the hosts, it would be The Strongest that took the lead with their first effort on goal. Pablo Escobar delivered a seemingly harmless free-kick towards the near post but Ernesto Cristaldo made something out of nothing. He showed some fine skill to loop the ball across the six-yard box over Ceni for Marcos Barrera to slide in and score at the far post. A early setback for last year’s Copa Sudamericana champions.

In conceding the goal, São Paulo proceeded to up the tempo as they hoped some quick buildup play would catch the visitors out. The chances at goal did also come with Rafael Tolói worrying Vaca, as the defender’s long-range effort fizzed narrowly wide, and the goalkeeper was also forced to tip over a deflected cross from Douglas.

The away side’s defence remained compact as São Paulo attempted to probe away at them throughout the half. The Strongest were also not afraid to push a few men up when the time was right as they looked for a more comfortable lead, although this almost proved costly five minutes before the half-time whistle. The Bolivian’s had pushed a few too many men up allowing Aloisio to slip in a through-ball for Luís Fabiano, and he was unlucky as to see his chipped effort miss the top corner by inches.

The Strongest also wasted an opportunity to score moments later as Luis Méndez performed an airshot after a promising ball across the São Paulo box. Teams can rue missing their chances in an instant and this proved to be the case as the hosts pulled level in the 43rd minute. Luís Fabiano saw his shot on the turn well saved by Vaca though the rebound fell to Osvaldo, and despite the goalkeeper’s best efforts he could not keep out the second effort. 1-1 at half-time and probably a fair scoreline.

There was a bit more of a cutting edge to São Paulo in the second half and one key observation was that Osvaldo had much more joy out on the left. The winger started to dribble his way past defenders as cracks began to surface in The Strongest’s defensive resolve. The crossbar would also be their saviour just after the hour mark. Jádson unleashed a powerful effort as he began to have more of an impact in the attacking play, after a quiet first half from the midfielder.

The Strongest did half one decent chance in the second half to re-take the lead. Escobar looped in a cross for Harold Reina though his header was a difficult one to execute. The forward almost had too much time on his hands plus he had to put the power into the header himself, and in the end it was an easy save for Ceni.

São Paulo forced the visitors to sit deeper the longer the half went on though ironically it would be the one time that The Strongest pushed up that they would find a breakthrough. Much like the Luís Fabiano chipped effort in the first half, the defenders had pushed too high up which left Marcelo Cañete to slip a ball in behind them. Ganso was the man he would find in space and his square ball across the area gifted Luís Fabiano an easy finish with ten minutes left.

The introduction of Ganso off the bench did see São Paulo play with more fluidity with the former Santos man able to link up the play in a much more effective way than Denílson managed to. Osvaldo did almost add a third in the latter stages but his effort whistled narrowly over the bar so 2-1 would be the final scoreline. Ney Franco will be more relieved than impressed by his team’s victory though it was a valiant effort by The Strongest in keeping the hosts out.

São Paulo: Rogério Ceni, Cortez, Rafael Tolói, Lúcio, Douglas, Denílson (Ganso 61), Wellington, Aloisio (Cañete 72), Jádson (Fabrício 82), Luís Fabiano, Osvaldo

The Strongest: Vaca, Torrico, Barrera, Méndez, Bejarano, Cristaldo (Cunningham 79), Chumacero, Solíz, Veizaga, Escobar, Reina

Standings:

1 Atlético Mineiro (Pld 2 Pts 6)

2 São Paulo (Pld 2 Pts 3)

3 The Strongest (Pld 2 Pts 3)

4 Arsenal (Pld 2 Pts 0)

———-

Group 4

PEÑAROL (URU) 0

VÉLEZ SARSFIELD (ARG) 1 (Pratto 87)

Peñarol suffered their first defeat of the campaign against Vélez in what was a re-run of the 2011 Libertadores semi-final between the teams. Vélez sought some minor revenge by winning this one as they join the Uruguayans in achieving two wins from the opening three games.

The hosts came close to taking the lead in the tenth minute with Juan Olivera’s header looping onto the roof of the net from a Fabian Estoyanoff free-kick from deep. Estoyanoff produced another testing moment for Vélez goalkeeper, Sebastian Sosa, as his free-kick curled into the side netting in what was the only other chance of note in the first half.

The pressure from the visitors came late on in the second period, ultimately resulting in the only goal of the contest. With five minutes left on the clock, Federico Insúa forced Enrique Bologna to smartly turn the ball around his post before two minutes later Vélez finally got their breakthrough. A surging run from Jonathan Copete down the left gave the Colombian the chance to cross into the box, and there was Lucas Pratto to sidefoot the ball into the net. It is always a tough task for any team to come away with the full three points from Montevideo so Vélez will be immensely satisfied with the win.

DEPORTES IQUIQUE (CHI) 2 (Ereros 15, Villalobos 22)

EMELEC (ECU) 0

Deportes Iquique claimed a valuable three points as they look to stay within contention in the group. Two-first half goals from Sebastian Ereros and Manuel Villalobos were enough to see off Emelec.

The first goal came after Álvaro Ormeño capitalised on some poor defensive play, then centered the ball to Ereros for a relatively simple finish. Ormeño was the architect again for the second goal for Los Dragones Celestes. His ball over the top from inside the Iquique half found Villalobos and the forward used his strength and skill to score.

Standings:

1 Vélez Sarsfield (Pld 3 Pts 6)

2 Peñarol (Pld 3 Pts 6)

3 Deportes Iquique (Pld 3 Pts 3)

4 Emelec (Pld 3 Pts 3)

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Group 5

CORINTHIANS (BRA) 2 (Guerrero 10, Pato 49)

MILLONARIOS (COL) 0

Reigning champions, Corinthians, coasted to a 2-0 victory over Millonarios in an eerie atmosphere at the Pacaembu. The game was played in front of no supporters, after Corinthians were punished for one of their fans launching a flare into the San Jose fans last week, sadly killing a 14-year-old boy in the process.

Corinthians took the lead only ten minutes in, following some poor defending from a corner kick. Jarol Martínez failed with a headed clearance, leaving Paolo Guerrero to finish after the ball had ricocheted off teammate, Paulinho. Corinthians were on top for the majority of the first half and the link-up play between Guerrero and Alexandre Pato was a joy to watch.

It happened to be Pato that scored Corinthians’ second goal, only four minutes into the second period. The former Milan player sneaked in at the far post to score from a wonderful cross from Ralf. The Millonarios defenders just stood and watched as the cross came in and goalkeeper, Luis Delgado, will also be disappointed with his contribution as the shot bounced off him into the net.

Corinthians made this game look like a training match in some periods and Millonarios were not helped by the fact they were also reduced to ten men with 13 minutes left. Martínez committed a late tackle on Renato Augusto to receive a second yellow card, making the task even trickier. 2-0 it ended and this victory will now give Corinthians hope to push on and qualify from this particular group.

Highlights

TIJUANA (MEX) 4 (Castillo 4, Aguilar 47, Corona 49, Martínez 74)

SAN JOSÉ (BOL) 0

Tijuana completed a ruthless victory over San José as they look a real contender to qualify from this group after recording their second victory. The Mexican’s saw off Millonarios away in Bogota last week and should be difficult to beat at home on their artificial surface.

Tijuana passed the ball around for fun in the buildup to their first goal and a lovely backheel from Alfredo Moreno set up Edgar Castillo to fire home at the near post, after only four minutes. San José survived until two minutes into the second half before conceding their second. Pablo Aguilar doubled the home side’s advantage as he latched onto Fernando Arce’s free-kick to score.

San José were carved apart once more in the 49th minute as Tijuana made it 3-0. Fidel Martínez put a delicate ball into the area for Joe Corona to guide the ball into the corner past Carlos Lampe.  The rout was completed in the 74th minute as Martínez then got himself onto the scoresheeet with a simple header at the far post, feeding upon a flick-on from a corner.

Standings:

1 Tijuana (Pld 2 Pts 6)

2 Corinthians (Pld 2 Pts 4)

3 San José (Pld 2 Pts 1)

4 Millonarios (Pld 2 Pts 0)

————

Group 6

DEPORTES TOLIMA (COL) 0

REAL GARCILASO (PER) 1 (Salazar 90)

Real Garcilaso are the real surprise outfit of this tournament so far as they remain unbeaten after their first-ever three games in the Copa Libertadores. The Peruvian side followed up their late victory away in Paraguay against Cerro Porteño with another 1-0 victory in the dying minutes against Deportes Tolima.

After some fine skill from last week’s hero, Alfredo Ramúa, he was then fouled which gave Garcilaso the opportunity to put a free-kick into the box in the first minute of injury time. Ramúa took the set-piece to find Yoshiro Salazar and the substitute placed his header into the corner to inflict heartache upon Deportes Tolima. Real Garcilaso sit top of the group with 7 points and could shock many to qualify from this group.

Standings:

1 Real Garcilaso (Pld 3 Pts 7)

2 Deportes Tolima (Pld 3 Pts 4)

3 Santa Fe (Pld 2 Pts 2)

4 Cerro Porteño (Pld 2 Pts 0)

———

Group 7

No games this week.

Next week’s fixtures: Universidad De Chile (Chi) v Newell’s Old Boys (Arg) & Deportivo Lara (Ven) v Olimpia (Par)

Standings:

1 Newell’s (Pld 2 Pts 3)

2 Olimpia (Pld 2 Pts 3)

3 Deportivo Lara (Pld 2 Pts 3)

4 U. De Chile (Pld 2 Pts 3)

———–

Group 8

HUACHIPATO (CHI) 1 (Rodríguez 45)

FLUMINENSE (BRA) 2 (Wellington Nem 67, Wagner 76)

Fluminense recovered from last week’s lacklustre display at home to Grêmio to record their second successive away victory. Huachipato did manage to battle to victory against Grêmio in the opening round of games, however their form has nosedived by falling to two defeats since.

The Chilean side were the ones to take the lead in this clash thanks to a goal from their star man, Braian Rodríguez on the stroke of half-time. A reverse ball from Nicolas Crovetto caught out Fluminense and Rodríguez was on hand take emphatically finish past Diego Cavalieri.

Fluminense woke up in the second half to turn defeat into victory with two goals from Wellington Nem and Wagner. The Fluminense first was a brilliantly worked goal as Wellington Nem volleyed into the roof of the net after the ball was neatly chested down by Fred. The goalscorer turned provider as he teed up Wagner to score into the far corner after Huachipato failed the clear their lines. The Brazilians should now fancy themselves to qualify from this group after two useful away victories.

Standings:

 1 Fluminense (Pld 3 Pts 6)

2 Grêmio (Pld 2 Pts 3)

3 Caracas (Pld 2 Pts 3)

4 Huachipato (Pld 3 Pts 3)

James Hunt

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

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