Article courtesy of South American Football

Group 1

No games this week.


1   Nacional 5 3 1 1 10 5 +5 10  
2   Boca Juniors 5 3 0 2 5 4 +1 9  
3   Toluca 5 1 2 2 5 9 -4 5  
4   Barcelona 5 0 3 2 4 6 -2 3  


Group 2

Tigre 3 (Leguizamón 24, Pérez García 49, Botta 54)

Sporting Cristal 1 (Lobatón 71)

Tigre urgently needed a victory to give themselves a chance to qualify on the final matchday and they did just that to sweep past Sporting Cristal by three goals to one. The Argentinian side now face another must-win tie away to Libertad in a match where one of the two sides will progress.

The hosts began the contest the brighter, but also had to be aware at the back as Sporting Cristal produced the first chance of note just before the ten minute mark. Irven Ávila was a nippy presence down the right in the opening stages, and he forced a save from Tigre goalkeeper, Javier García, after a nice one-two with Renzo Sheput. That one-two opened up space in behind Tigre’s back three with García doing well to close down Ávila to force a shot from a tight angle.

From the off, Tigre had a livewire in Matías Pérez García as he chased down the ball constantly and made it his role to be the hub of Tigre’s passing moves. That dedication to the cause spread through his side as their pressure off the ball paid off with Tigre taking the lead in the 24th minute. A long ball downfield from Gabriel Peñalba should have been dealt with by centre-half, Jesús Álvarez, but Leandro Leguizamón sneaked up on him to steal the ball away before slotting the ball past goalkeeper, Diego Penny.

Minutes later, Pérez García was unlucky not to make it two-nil as he curled a superb free-kick agonisingly past the top corner. The rest of the first half saw the life sucked out of Sporting Cristal as Tigre allowed them little time on the ball and were compact in defence. Fouls also began to creep into their game as the frustration started to kick in.

Sporting Cristal had a great chance to level the scoreline shortly after the interval although the opportunity was wasted by forward, Hernán Rengifo. He did brilliantly to control an inch-perfect lobbed ball into the box on his chest, but volleyed over under pressure from García.

That missed chance would prove costly as Tigre straightaway scored from the resulting goal-kick in the 49th minute. García launched a huge ball upfield which offered up two flicked-on headers to trouble the Sporting Cristal defence. Rubén Botta connected with the second header to free up Pérez García, and he used his strength to hold off Nelinho Quina to then chip the ball over Penny into the net. Sporting Cristal could only have themselves to blame for conceding two goals due to a lack of defensive commitment.

Sporting Cristal’s misery continued as Álvarez received a second yellow card in the 51st minute for a foul on Leguizamón. The forward proved to be a thorn in the side of Álvarez once more as he defender kicked out from the side.

Botta had endured an unusally quiet first half, but he soon found his footing to score a lovely solo goal in the 54th minute. He won the ball from Carlos Lobatón in midfield, before he dribbled his way towards goal past the challenge of Nicolás Ayr to allow himself to dispatch a calm finish past Penny. It was a stylish goal from the young man as he slotted the ball into the far corner with the outside of his left foot.

Tigre were in control for the majority of the second half, but were made to sweat slightly as Rengifo forced García to tip his effort from the angle wide of the post, before Sporting Cristal grabbed a consolation goal in the 71st minute. Rengifo won a ball into the box before he left it to Lobatón to cut inside and curl a lovely effort into the far corner. There were muted celebrations from the visitors as they knew the contest was beyond them.

Sporting Cristal are now eliminated from the tournament, while Tigre travel to Paraguay for that crucial game against Libertad. There will be extensive coverage of that game here in what is sure to be one of the games of the week.


Palmeiras 1 (Charles 53)

Libertad 0

Palmeiras managed to overcome visitors, Libertad, thanks to a slender 1-0 victory despite the fact they had to play for the best part of half an hour with only ten men. The Brazilian side now sit on top of the group standings with one game remaining after this vital home win.

The winning goal was scored in the 53rd minute as Charles latched onto a mishit long-range effort from Wesley to score through the legs of Libertad goalkeeper, Rodrigo Muñoz. There was definitely an element of fortune to the goal, but Charles was there in the right place at the right time to anticipate Wesley’s misplaced shot accordingly.

From the high of providing the assist for the Palmeiras goal, Wesley soon experienced a low moment as he was sent off in the 62nd minute. The referee awarded him a second yellow card after he left his studs raised in a challenge on Nelson Romero.

Libertad applied plenty of late pressure but Palmeiras held on to record a crucial victory. Although Palmeiras sit in pole position, they can not rest on their laurels as they face a potentially tricky away tie against Sporting Cristal next week. Libertad will host Tigre in what is sure to be a winner takes all contest.


1 Previous rank: 3 Palmeiras 5 3 0 2 5 4 +1 9  
2 Previous rank: 1 Libertad 5 2 2 1 7 4 +3 8  
3 Previous rank: 4 Tigre 5 2 0 3 4 7 -3 6  
4 Previous rank: 2 Sporting Cristal 5 1 2 2 7 8 -1 5


Group 3

No games this week.


1   Atlético Mineiro 5 5 0 0 16 7 +9 15  
2 Previous rank: 4 The Strongest 5 2 0 3 7 8 -1 6  
3 Previous rank: 2 São Paulo 5 1 1 3 6 8 -2 4  
4 Previous rank: 3 Arsenal 5 1 1 3 8 14 -6 4  


Group 4

Peñarol 3 (Zalayeta 39, 74, Aguirregaray 76)

Deportes Iquique 0

Peñarol eased to victory against Chilean opponents, Deportes Iquique, however their victory would not be enough to see them through to the next round after finishing a point behind Emelec.

The Uruguayan side required Emelec to lose and needed to turn a five-goal swing in their favour, and they started off in the right fashion by taking the lead 39 minutes in. Marcelo Zalayeta was credited with the opening goal as he deflected the ball into the net from a Sebastián Gallegos free-kick. The deflection was enough to deceive Iquique goalkeeper, Rodrigo Naranjo, who was helpless after he had already dived in an attempt to save the free-kick.

Zalayeta added another in the 74th minute with a simple tap in, after Carlos Núñez had used his pace and power to advance down the line before putting a ball across the six-yard box. Matias Aguirregaray added a third two minutes later as he reacted the quickest to a save from Naranjo to divert the ball home from close range. Two losses to Vélez and one to Emelec proved key as the 2011 runners-up bow out of this year’s competition. As for Deportes Iquique, it was a steep learning curve for them as they could only record three points in total from their campaign.

Vélez Sarsfield 0

Emelec 0

Emelec only needed a point from their away trip to Vélez to secure their passage through to the knockout stage and they were successful in doing just that in Buenos Aires.

In a game littered with half chances, both sides had one opportunity each late in the second half to steal all three points. Fernando Gaibor saw a fierce low effort fly agonisingly wide of the far post for Emelec, while Ezequiel Rescaldani fired over from point blank range for Vélez. A draw suited both teams here as Vélez end up group winners by three points over the Ecuadorian side.

Final Standings:

1   Vélez Sarsfield 6 4 1 1 10 3 +7 13  
2 Previous rank: 3 Emelec 6 3 1 2 5 4 +1 10  
3 Previous rank: 2 Peñarol 6 3 0 3 7 7 +0 9  
4   Deportes Iquique 6 1 0 5 5 13 -8 3  


Group 5

Corinthians 3 (Romarinho 26, Guerrero 60, Edenilson 90)

San José 0

Corinthians posted a relatively easy 3-0 victory over San José to top the group ahead of Tijuana thanks to a superior goal difference. Much like their victorious campaign late year, Corinthians have based themselves on a solid defence with only two goals conceded so far and added another clean sheet here.

Romarinho opened the scoring in the 26th minute by guiding a header into the far corner after the ball came into the box from an Emerson Sheik free-kick. The Brazilians had to wait until the hour mark before they added a second through Paolo Guerrero. Emerson Sheik was again the provider as he advanced past his man on the left to then deliver a pinpoint cross for Guerrero, who neatly controlled the ball on his chest then applied the finish.

San José conceded one more in injury time as they now exit the competition. It came about after a superb cutting move by Corinthians with a neat backheel from Emerson Sheik that freed up Pato to slip a ball through to Edenilson, who then slotted the ball past Carlos Lampe.

Tijuana 1 (Martínez 90)

Millonarios 0

Tijuana completed their successful group campaign with a second 1-0 victory over Millonarios, following their away victory against the Colombian side on matchday one. Millonarios finish up rock bottom in the standings after only collecting three points in their six games.

Fidel Martínez scored the solitary goal of the match deep into injury time as he ran in behind the defence to score from a ball chipped into the box by Raul Enríquez. Tijuana will be a tricky proposition for somebody in the next round with their 100% home record in the group stage looking even more fearsome when backed up with the fact they have yet too concede at home in this season’s Copa Libertadores.

Final Standings:

1 Previous rank: 2 Corinthians 6 4 1 1 10 2 +8 13  
2 Previous rank: 1 Tijuana 6 4 1 1 8 4 +4 13  
3   San José 6 1 2 3 5 11 -6 5  
4   Millonarios 6 1 0 5 2 8 -6 3


Group 6

Deportes Tolima 1 (Chará 51) Santa Fe 2 (Martínez Borja 60, 79)

Santa Fe ensured their qualification into the knockout rounds with a 2-1 away victory over fellow Colombian side, Deportes Tolima. Two goals from Cristian Martínez Borja enabled his side to overturn Yimmi Chará’s strike for Deportes Tolima.

Deportes Tolima had the opportunities to take a first half lead as David Silva shot over the crossbar when he should have done better, and Felipe Noguera forced Santa Fe keeper, Camilo Vargas, into a fine save from his free-kick. Rogerio Leichtweis, fresh from a hat-trick against Real Garcilaso last week, was also denied as Vargas saved his powerful effort from close range.

The hosts did manage to find a way past Vargas thanks to a goal from Chará in the 51st minute. Silva played a wonderful ball downfield from inside his own half towards Leichtweis, and his excellent dummy ensured the pass split two defenders, which allowed Chará to run in and chip the ball over Vargas into the net.

Santa Fe were only behind for nine minutes as a throw into the Tolima box created havoc amongst their defenders before Martínez Borja smashed home a volley. The same man caused the damage in the 79th minute as he breached the defensive line to score the winning goal. Omar Pérez slipped a ball out wide for Martínez Borja to run onto then before he fired his shot into the far corner with right-back, Noguera, nowhere in sight.

Deportes Tolima’s destiny is now out of their hands as they need to beat Cerro Porteño next week and hope that Santa Fe can do them a favour by winning against Real Garcilaso.

Real Garcilaso 5 (Gamarra 9, 90, Montes 37, Ferreira 73, Ramos 77)

Cerro Porteño 1 (Nanni 13)

Real Garcilaso hammered a woeful Cerro Porteño side to put themselves in a promising position ahead of their final group game next week. A point against Santa Fe would be enough to secure their progress in what has been a whirlwind of a debut tournament for the Peruvian side.

They took an early lead in the 9th minute through Parguayan winger, Óscar Gamarra. Fabio Ramos curled a free-kick into the box and Gamarra provided an accurate header to put the hosts in front. Their lead would only last four minutes however as Cerro Porteño equalised through experienced forward, Roberto Nanni. The Argentinian showed quick feet to get the ball under control to prod the ball past Garcilaso keeper, Diego Carranza, from close range.

Cerro Porteño would fall by the wayside after that equaliser as the rout began from Real Garcilaso. Mauricio Montes made it 2-1 in the 37th minute after some brilliant work down the left from Victor Ferriera. He turned his man inside and out down the left before he executed a low cross for Montes to divert home.

The real damage was done within the final twenty minutes a Cerro fell apart at the back. Ferreira got the ball rolling as he managed to add a goal of his own in the 73rd minute. His aerial threat was contained last week by Deportes Tolima, but he made amends in this tie as he headed home from Edwin Retamoso’s cross. The final two goals were nothing short of magnificent. Ramos scored a beautiful free-kick in the 77th minute while Gamarra added a second in stoppage time with a 35-yard piledriver into the bottom corner.


1 Previous rank: 3 Santa Fe 5 3 2 0 7 4 +3 11  
2   Real Garcilaso 5 3 1 1 8 5 +3 10  
3 Previous rank: 1 Deportes Tolima 5 2 1 2 7 5 +2 7  
4   Cerro Porteño 5 0 0 5 3 11 -8 0


Group 7

Deportivo Lara 2 (Torrealba 45, Valoyes 85)

Universidad De Chile 3 (Civelli 45, Díaz 47, Cortés 79)

Universidad De Chile exit the competition at the group stage after losing out the Newell’s in the standings due to an inferior goal difference. A huge victory over Deportivo Lara was required if they were to stand any chance of escaping the group. Uni De Chile also fielded a weakened team as they already knew their hopes of progression were slim.

Luciano Civelli gave the Chilean side the lead in Barquisimeto in first half stoppage time as he found the net by heading in a Charles Aránguiz free-kick from deep. Uni De Chile could have been forgiven for thinking they would go into half-time with the lead, but much to their credit, Deportivo Lara levelled with another late first half goal. José Torrealba capitalised on a block from a previous effort to neatly slide the ball into the far corner past keeper, Paulo Garces.

Uni De Chile re-captured the lead only two minute after the break through Isaac Díaz. Aránguiz again provided the assist as he crossed the ball in for Díaz, who smartly finished after taking a touch to control the ball into the box. César Cortés then added a third for La U in the 79th minute as he dispatched a cutback from Valber Huerta.

Deportivo Lara did pull a goal back in the 85th minute to set up an interesting finale, but Uni De Chile had done enough to win the contest. Zamir Valoyes ran onto a long ball before he fired his shot into the top corner from close range. Valoyes added another moment to the script in stoppage time for the wrong reason this time as he was shown a straight red card. Both teams will now focus their attention on their domestic campaigns after this dead rubber of a contest.

Olimpia 4 (Salgueiro (pen) 32, 75, Ferreyra 55, 78)

Newell’s Old Boys 1 (Casco 47)

Paraguayan side, Olimpia, made sure they topped the standings with a resounding 4-1 victory against Newell’s Old Boys. Newell’s were not helped by the sending off of their goalkeeper, Nahuel Guzmán in the 28th minute, as Juan Salgueiro and Juan Ferreyra helped themselves to two goals each for the hosts.

Guzmán received his red card after bringing down Sergio Ariosa down in the box and left the referee with no choice but to send the goalkeeper off and award the penalty. Salgueiro stepped up to slot the penalty down the middle after substitute goalkeeper, Sebastián Peratta, incorrectly dived to his left.

Despite being a man down, Newell’s did draw level two minutes into the second half. Rinaldo Cruzado chipped a ball in behind the defence for Milton Casco to run onto, and the marauding right-back superbly finished into the far corner.

Olimpia stepped up their game from that moment as they made their man advantage count. Ferreyra scored his first by heading in a free-kick from Salgueiro and the two would combine again for Olimpia’s third. This time the players swapped roles as Ferreyra played a ball back to Salgueiro, who deceived Raul Villalba before firing in from outside the area in the 75th minute.

Ferreyra would then add his second with twelve minutes to go with another commanding header, this time from a Jorge Báez cross. Olimpia will be the more joyous team after this one, but both teams will be satisfied as they are in the draw for the knockout stages.

Final Standings:

1   Olimpia 6 4 1 1 16 7 +9 13  
2   Newell’s Old Boys 6 3 0 3 11 10 +1 9  
3   Universidad De Chile 6 3 0 3 7 9 -2 9  
4   Deportivo Lara 6 1 1 4 8 16 -8 4  


Group 8

Grêmio 0

Fluminense 0

Grêmio and Fluminense played out a goalless draw in this all-Brazilian clash that did nothing to cement either side’s progress towards qualification. The group is now wide open going into the final round of games with only two points separating all four teams.

Grêmio did well to salvage a point as they had to play the second half a man down, after Cris was sent off for kicking out at Rafael Sóbis from behind in the 45th minute. They were on thin ice in the second half as they had Dida to thank with the goalkeeper producing a fine save from Rhayner in a one-on-one situation. He superbly turned the ball around the post as Rhayner sqaundered the best opportunity of the tie.


1   Fluminense 5 2 2 1 4 5 -1 8
2   Grêmio 5 2 1 2 9 5 +4 7  
3 Previous rank: 4 Huachipato 5 2 1 2 9 7 +2 7  
4 Previous rank: 3 Caracas 5 2 0 3 6 11 -5 6  

James Hunt

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