Copa Libertadores: Week 3 Recap

Falcao (Reuters)

By NESTOR F. SEBASTIAN

The third week of the Copa Libertadores group-stage matches saw Chile's Colo Colo produce a much-needed upset, tournament newcomers Sport Recife of Brazil continue its shocking form and two of Bolivia's representatives looking like it won't make it to the next round.

Here is a rundown of how all eight groups in Copa Libertadores shook out after the third week of group play.


GROUP 1

Colo Colo pulled off a courageous 3-1 win Tuesday in Brazil against Palmeiras despite being a man down for most of the second half.

Much to the dismay of its rabid supporters, the Brazilians were unable to match Colo Colo's midfield game and left too many spaces for the Chileans to counterattack successfully.

Lucas Barrios outplayed two defenders and netted the first for Colo Colo right before halftime and also assisted on the second for Colombian Magnelly Torres. Veteran Sebastian "Chamagol" Gonzaez put the match away after running onto a nifty through-pass by Torres through the midfield.


Keirrison had the lone goal for the Brazilians, who are now bottome of the group with two losses and are in danger of facing an early elimination, especially considering that they have let seven goals in these losses.

Meanwhile, in the other group match Wednesday in Brazil, Sport Recife was able to hold off defending champions Liga de Quito of Ecuador in a humid evening and on a mediocore pitch.

Daniel Barioni was able to get an early lead for the Brazilians but Liga almost pulled one back at the beginning of the second half with an attempt by Damian Manso, who was thwarted by the defense. Manso had some dangerous chances for the Ecuadoreans but couldn' t capitalize.

The game reached its conclusion with about 20 minutes left when Ecuador international goalkeeper committed a clear penalty on Paulo Baier, who hit it from the spot to give Sport a 2-0 lead and eventual win.

Sport now leads the group with six points, followed by Colo Colo and Liga with three apiece, and Palmeiras-who were favorites to take this group-with no points.


GROUP 2

Boca Juniors got their second successive 1-0 victory Wednesday, this time over Deportivo Tachiva, ending a three-year streak of losses by Argentine sides on Venezuelan soil.

The home team, boistered by a 40,000-strong crowd, managed to match play with the Argentine giants but were daggered by a Luciano Figueroa header with three minutes left in the match.

Boca's wizard Juan Roman Riquelme was contained by a disciplined Venezuelan stand and couldn't orchestrate Boca's normally potent attack.


GROUP 3

Peru's San Martin held on for a 2-1 win at home Thursday over a River Plate side that decided to leave several first-team players back home.

River was outclassed on several occasions in the first half but appeared to step it up after San Martin got its first goal on a questionable penalty call which led to a 1-0 lead for the Peruvians entering halftime.

In the second half, River thoroughly dominated the home team and had several opportunities to tie the match but were stopped by decisiveness from San Martin's Christian Ramos and goalkeeper Leao Butron.

San Martin got its second with a perfectly-struck goal by Argentine Gonzalo Luduena, who ironically is on loan from River.

River deserved to tie the match after constantly penetrating a tired San Martin defense and pulled one back with a goal by Colombian Radamel Falcao Garcia, who had a strong match but couldn't fully take advantage of his numerous chances.

Former DC United player Marcelo Gallardo came on in the 60th was was essentially ineffective.


GROUP 4

America de Cali of Colombia lost at home Thursday 3-1 to Brazil's Sao Paulo, who were able to grab a quick 2nd minute goal from Washington.

The home side were unable to break down the Brazilians' defense and had to resort to long-distance shots on goal.

America had a few chances in the first 20 minutes, including a free kick that was brilliantly saved by Rogerio, but saw itself go down 2-0 with another goal by Washington.

Borges finally put the match away with a header entering the second half, outplaying goalkeeper Julian Mesa, who had played timidly for most of the contest.

America's crowd, seeing their team fall yet again to opposition, began throwing objects onto the pitch, which halted the match briefly.

GROUP 5
Brazil's Cruzeiro managed to escape with a 1-0 win in Bolivia Wednesday against Universitario de Sucre which gives it a comfortable lead over its three group rivals.

Thiago Ribeiro headed in a 38th-minute goal for the visitors but had to agonize through the last 20 minutes after striker Kleber was shown a red card, Cruzeiro's fourth in three matches.


GROUP 6

Caracas of Venezuela continued their strong showing at home on Tuesday, shutting out Mexico's Chivas 2-0 with goal by Colombian Jaime Bustamante and Argentinue Dario Figueroa.

The Venezuelans kept the Mexican's reputable attack at bay and even showed some flashes of some of their own well-orchestrated raids on the Mexican goal.

Jared Borgetti, who had been the subject of a transfer to MLS in the offseason, came on for the second half but was contained by the Rojos' backline.

Both sides won't have to wait long to meet again as their match in Mexico will take place next Wednesday.


GROUP 7

Universidad de Chile had no problems at home Wednesday after topping winless Aurora of Bolivia 3-0.

The Chileans took control from the opening whistle and never looked back. Manuel Iturra gave the Chileans the lead 20 minutes into the match.

The Chilean dominance was evident throughout the match but it had to wait until the last 10 minutes to put the game away, with goals by Manuel Villalobos and Jose Rojas.


GROUP 8

Paraguay's Libertad notched its third-straight win in Libertadores with a 2-0 win Thursday at home against Argentina's San Lorenzo.

It began as a nightmare for the visitors after losing goalkeeper Aguston Orion to injury within the first 10 minutes.

The Paraguayans constantly chipped at the Argentine side of the field and were able to get goals from Uruguayan Miguel Ximenez and Sergio Aquino but Orion's understudy Bruno Centeno was largely to blame for both goals.

————-

What do you think of the Copa Libertadores so far? Which team has surprised you the most? Which team has disappointed you? Have you been watching?

Share your thoughts below.

This entry was posted in Mexican Soccer, South American Soccer. Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to Copa Libertadores: Week 3 Recap

  1. BFBS says:

    I don’t know much about Latin American club soccer but enjoy reading your stuff Nestor.

  2. Cam says:

    That’s an impressive result by Caracas. Chivas had looked like an unstoppable force prior to this last game.

    Maybe Boca Juniors has finally figured out how to win again.

    Marcelo Gallardo…I think it’s safe to say that his best years are behind him. WTF River Plate? I’ve never understood why some of the top tier teams leave players behind. It might cost them sooner or later.

  3. Andres says:

    Actually Marcello Gallardo came in the second half last night and played well..even had the assist on the River goal with a beautiful free kick cross I don’t believe his best days are over just yet.