COPA LIBERTADORES REVIEW – Group Stage Week Six

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Article courtesy of South American Football

Group 1

Boca Juniors 1 (Blandi 9)

Barcelona 0

Boca Juniors secured their passage through to the knockout stages thanks to an early goal from Nicolas Blandi to give the faithful at La Bombonera some overdue joy. After a relatively poor start to the group, Carlos Bianchi’s men have found their footing with two consecutive one-nil victories. The result also means Barcelona will bow out of the tournament after their final group game against Nacional.

The only goal of the game came from an improvised move following a corner kick in the 9th minute. Boca opted to take the corner short before playing the ball backwards towards Franco Sosa. The right-back then lofted in a fine ball towards the far post to meet the head of Guillermo Burdisso, with his header back across goal scrambled in by Blandi. Barcelona only had themselves to blame here as they left Burdisso totally unmarked as the ball from Sosa came into the box. Boca then sat on their one goal lead for the remaining 81 minutes to ensure qualification to the next round.

 

Nacional 4 (Bueno 11, 89, Damonte 34, Alonso (pen) 74)

Toluca 0

Nacional produced an emphatic victory over Mexican side, Toluca, as they secured their berth in the knockout stages. Toluca on the other hand will exit the competition after their final group game.

The hosts took the lead eleven minutes in through Gonzalo Bueno after he rounded goalkeeper, Alfredo Talavera, before producing a fine finish from a tight angle. Israel Damonte then scored Nacional’s second in the 34th minute as he tapped in a ball across the six-yard box from Hugo Dorrego.

Nacional followed up their two goals from the first half with two more in the second. Their third goal came from the penalty spot with Ivan Alonso the goalscorer in the 74th minute. The fourth goal was particularly pleasing on the eye as Bueno added a second with one minute of regulation time remaining. Alexander Medina placed a delicate ball across the box for Bueno to finish into the corner after Álvaro Recoba allowed the ball to dummy through. All too easy for Nacional as they finally have something to celebrate after an indifferent start to their league campaign.

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Group 2

Palmeiras 2 (Caio 19, Charles 53)

Tigre 0

It’s two wins and two losses so far for Palmeiras as they jumped into second place with a 2-0 home victory over Tigre. The Argentinian side will now surely have to win their two remaining games if they have any hopes of progression.

Caio opened the scoring for the hosts in the 19th minute as he flicked in a low cross from Vinícius past Javier García in the Tigre goal. Palmerias then completed their revenge for the 1-0 loss in the reverse fixture as Charles scored in the 53rd minute. Vinícius again provided the assist as he laid to ball off for Charles to drive his shot into the bottom corner from the edge of the box

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Group 3

Atlético Mineiro 5 (Diego Tardelli 11, Ronaldinho (pen) 15, 59, Luan 47, Alecsandro 90)

Arsenal de Sarandi 2 (Braghieri 40, Benedetto 85)

Atlético Mineiro arguably produced the performance of the week as they demolished Arsenal by the same 5-2 scoreline when the teams played each other a few weeks ago. The Brazilian side came into this week as the only side with a 100% record and they ensured this statistic stays in place against a defensively poor Arsenal side.

Diego Tardelli scored Atlético Mineiro’s opener in the 11th minute as he ran onto a flick-on header from  Jô before having plenty of time to compose himself before slotting the ball home. Ronaldinho then added a second from the penalty spot four minutes later after Luan was fouled just inside the box.

Arsenal did half the deficit in the 40th minute as a free-kick created problems for the hosts. Nicolas Aguirre headed a free-kick from deep across the six yard box ready for Diego Braghieri to head the ball into the net.

It did not take long for the home side to restore their two-goal lead however as Luan made it 3-1 in the 47th minute. Jô delivered a ball across the goalmouth which Arsenal failed to deal with and Luan pounced to convert at the far post. Ronaldinho added his second of the night in the 59th minute to ruin Arsenal’s chances of a comeback. He produced a superb chipped finish to score at the near post. That goal below:

Arsenal did manage to add one more with five minutes to go although it would prove to be no more than a consolation goal. Dario Benedetto rifled in a superb long-range free-kick into the top corner. Victor had no chance of saving the effort that flashed by in the blink of an eye.

Alecsando completed the rout as he made it 5-2 in stoppage time. He showed some wonderful control before unleashing a fierce strike past Cristian Campestrini from outside the area. Atlético Mineiro have looked menacing in attack so far this tournament as they have scored sixteen in five games, and they will look to maintain their 100% record against fellow Brazilian side, São Paulo, in two weeks time.

 

The Strongest 2 (Solíz 15, Cristaldo 66)

São Paulo 1 (Rogério Ceni (pen) 44)

The Strongest leave themselves with a great chance of qualification thanks to a 2-1 home victory against São Paulo. Two goals either side of Rogério Ceni’s penalty kick means a victory over Arsenal in their final game guarantees their progression.

A superb curled effort from Nelvin Solíz ensured The Strongest took the lead in the 15th minute. The shot flew into the top corner after he cut inside from the right, despite Rogério Ceni managing to get his fingertips on the shot.

The São Paulo goalkeeper restored parity as he stepped upto the penalty spot to score an equalising goal a minute shy of half-time. Aloisio was the man who was fouled after he tripped over the outstretched leg of Ernesto Cristaldo. The veteran goalkeeper placed his penalty with ease as the teams went into the interval all square.

Cristaldo made amends for conceding the penalty as he scored a brilliant winning goal for The Strongest. His 35-yard strike flew past Rogério Ceni to send their supporters into a frenzy of delight.

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Group 4

Deportes Iquique 1 (Villalobos 40)

Vélez Sarsfield 3 (Domínguez 7, Romero 19, Copete 51)

Vélez notched up their fourth win of the campaign to secure their passage through to the next round and eliminated Deportes Iquique in the process. The tie was wrapped up after 51 minutes as Vélez coasted to victory.

Sebastián Domínguez scored a rare goal to open the goalscoring in the 7th minute, as his free-kick took a deflection off the wall to wrongfoot Iquique goalkeeper, Rodrigo Naranjo. Vélez then doubled their lead in the 19th minute thanks to a low driven shot from Lucas Romero from just outside the box.

Deportes Iquique wasted an opportunity to pull one back in the 26th minute as Rodrigo Díaz missed from the penalty spot. They did however manage to score five minutes before half-time through their main attacking threat, Manuel Villalobos. He surged into the area after dispossessing Domínguez before placing the ball round goalkeeper, Sebastián Sosa.

A bright young star that has really come to the fore for Vélez this season in the form of Jonathan Copete, scored the winning goal in the 51st minute. The Colombian scored with a simple finish after a ball across the box came in from Emiliano Papa. Vélez will now look to secure top spot when they face Emelec next week.

 

Emelec 2 (Nasuti 81, Gaibor 90) Peñarol 0

Two late goals from Emelec means the Ecuadorian side have one foot in the door as they hope to advance from the group stages.  Peñarol now need a five-goal swing to go in their favour after a costly defeat in Guayaquil.

Two Argentinians combined for Emelec’s first as Christian Nasuti headed the ball in from Marcos Mondaini’s free-kick in the 81st minute. The hosts then secured all three points with a goal in injury time thanks to a fantastic strike from substitute, Fernando Gaibor. His free-kick left Peñarol goalkeeper, Enrique Bologna, rooted to the spot as the ball flew into the top corner.

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 Group 5

San José 1 (Gomes 81)

Tijuana 1 (Martínez 65)

A draw was enough to see Tijuana through as they overcame a potentially tricky tie away in Bolivia. San José did manage to equalise with nine minutes to go but they could not find a winning goal meaning they will exit the competition at the group stage.

Tijuana took the lead after Fidel Martínez stole the ball away from Ignacio García as he took far too much time to distrubute the ball, then he chipped the ball over goalkeeper, Carlos Lampe, before nodding the ball into an empty net. The San José equaliser came courtesy of Marcelo Gomes although it was not enough to secure the win they desired. Gomes scored with a neat finish at the near post following a nicely weighted pass from Diego Cabrera. Tijuana host Millonarios next week as they look to claim top spot while San José travel to Corinthians.

 

Millonarios 0 Corinthians 1 (Danilo 57)

Corinthians followed Tijuana into the next stage with a narrow 1-0 victory in Bogotá against Millonarios. Danilo scored the only goal of the game in the 57th minute as Corinthians recorded their third win of the group stage.

Jorge Henrique created the goal as he passed the ball to Danilo from out on the wing and the midfielder scored with a powerful low strike inside the near post.

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Group 6

Real Garcilaso 0

Deportes Tolima 3 (Leichtweis 54, 66, 84)

Deportes Tolima now sit in second spot after a solid 3-0 victory away in Peru against Real Garcilaso. Rogerio Leichtweis stole the show as he scored a second-half hat-trick against the surprise performers of the Libertadores so far. Real Garcilaso now drop into third place although all is still to play for in a tight group.

The first half had a slow tempo to it but thankfully this did not affect the openness of the game as a whole. Deportes Tolima edged a goalless first half in terms of chances and attacking creativity with the performances of Yimmi Chará and Andrés Andrade particularly pleasing. Chará often showed good skill on the ball and decent intent whenever he cut inside and came close in the 4th minute doing just this. His effort from outside the area whistled past the far post however.  Andrade was also full of running with his work rate sure to have won many admirers in this game. His closest chance came after he turned well before holding off two defenders to then force a save from Diego Carranza with a stinging effort from outside the box.

Real Garcilaso had a different gameplan in the first half as they attempted to find lone striker Victor Ferreira on almost every occasion. The hosts looked to use his aerial threat in several instances but the forward failed to really test Tolima goalkeeper, Antony Silva.

Nine minutes after the interval, Deportes Tolima finally found the breakthrough through Leichtweis. The furthest man forward for the visitors had a relatively quiet first half but has an ability to seize upon a chance at any given moment. Chará and Andrade combined in the buildup before the latter slipped in a ball to Leichtweis, and he produced two great touches to open up the opportunity before he coolly dispatched the finish. A poor attempt at a challenge on Leichtweis from Rolando Bogado did not help Garcilaso’s cause.

Tolima patiently sat back after their first goal as they easily soaked up a lack of attacking threat from the Peruvian side, and then punished them for their lack of chances from a corner kick in the 66th minute. The ball into the box from Andrade found David Silva completely unmarked on the far side of the area with his shot deflected towards goal by Yoshiro Salazar. His namesake in the Garcilaso goal, Antony Silva, saved the deflection but the ball ballooned up into the air which allowed Leichtweis to pounce with a headed goal. Silva was unlucky as he could not get to his feet quick enough to save the rebound.

Leichtweis completed his hat-trick with six minutes remaining after some slack defending by Real Garcilaso from another corner. Chará slipped the ball down the byline to Andrade as the defenders ball-watched before he cut the ball back for Leictweis to volley into the corner. A fine way to complete his hat-trick as Leichtweis put in a clinical second half performance. Deportes Tolima face Santa Fe in a crunch tie next week as the two Colombian sides battle it out for superiority. Real Garcilaso will fancy their chances to get themselves back on track against a lacklustre Cerro Porteño side.

 

Santa Fe 1 (Cuero 23)

Cerro Porteño 0

Santa Fe now sit top of the standings after a 1-0 home victory over Cerro Porteño as they also condemned the Paraguayan’s to four defeats out of four. Cerro are currently the only team in the tournament yet to record a point.

After a swift passing move, Yulian Anchico flicked the ball past a hopeless Sergio Vergara challenge down the right, before whipping in a cross for Jefferson Cuero to chest the ball in an unorthodox fashion in the 23rd minute. That would prove to be the only goal of the contest with Cerro Porteño failing to put up much of a challenge afterwards.

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Group 7

Newell’s Old Boys 3 (Pérez 4, Scocco 43, 89)

Deportivo Lara 1 (Pérez Greco 79)

Newell’s Old Boys have all but secured their passage into the knockout stage after a 3-1 victory over Deportivo Lara, inspired by two goals from hightly sought-after Ignacio Scocco. They would need to suffer an eight goal swing if they were to be eliminated in the final round of fixtures.

Newell’s took only four minutes to take the lead as Pablo Pérez mishit his shot into the ground from the edge of the area, but the effort had enough about it to deceive Alan Liebeskind in the Deportivo Lara goal. Scocco then produced a piece of magic to double the home side’s lead two minutes before the interval. As he advanced towards the six-yard box, he kept his balance brilliantly under pressure from Jose Rey before placing a sumptuous chipped finish into the far corner.

Deportivo Lara gave themselves hope of salvaging something from the game as they equalised with eleven minutes remaining. Edgar Pérez Greco slammed home a cross from Aquiles Ocanto with the aid of the crossbar. Newell’s extinguished any possibility of a comeback as Scocco grabbed his second with a wonderful solo effort in the 89th minute. He ran with the ball from inside his own half before dribbling past two Lara players to then execute a fine finish into the corner. Comparisons of a similarity to legendary goals from Messi and Maradona have been made regarding this goal which can only enhance his reputation.

 

Universidad De Chile 0

Olimpia 1 (Ortiz 50)

Olimpia guaranteed their place in the next round as they completed a double over Uni De Chile. They won 3-0 in Asunción back in February and all but killed the Chilean side’s hopes of progression with a solid away victory. A solitary goal from Richard Ortiz in the 50th minute was enough to secure all three points.

There was a smash and grab element to the only goal of the contest as Olimpia cleared the ball off their own line only two minutes earlier. After surviving that incident, Ortiz latched onto a defence-splitting pass from Juan Salgueiro to then calmly finish past Jhonny Herrera. Uni De Chile will almost certainly rue losing two of their three home games as they look all but certain to depart the tournament.

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Group 8

Caracas 0

Huachipato 4 (Rodríguez 8, 36, 63, Falcone 87)

Huachipato put themselves in a great position in their quest to qualify with a resounding 4-0 victory away in Venezuela against Caracas. A superb hat-trick from Brian Rodríguez powered the win as well as lifting the forward to the top of the goalscoring charts with five goals.

His first goal came in the 8th minute as he confidently finished past Alain Baroja in the Carcas goal, following a ball into the box from Daniel González. His second goal came about due to some poor defending from Andres Sánchez as he let the ball bounce over his head, before Rodríguez capitalised on the loose ball to score with 36 minutes on the clock. The Uruguayan completed his hat-trick in the 63rd minute with a fine diving header after Baroja had saved a previous effort.

Caracas’ misery did not end there as they conceded a fourth with three minutes remaining. Federico Falcone scored a spectacular goal as he intercepted a piece of defensive confusion between Baroja and Rubert Quijada to prod the ball home.

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James Hunt

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

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