It was a good week for Brazil’s representatives, with three of their four teams in action winning and Sao Paulo collecting a valuable away point at Monterrey, who are now out of contention.
Among the victims of the unstoppable Brazilian contingent were Cerro Porteno, whose chances of reaching the next round have also gone, the Paraguayans joining Los Rayados, Emelec, Nacional of Paraguay, Bolivar, Blooming and Deportivo Italia on the list of eliminated teams.
FIFA.com has the details on those stories and more as it reviews the week’s events in Latin America’s blue riband club competition.
Game of the week
Cruzeiro 3-0 Velez Sarsfield
Goals: Thiago Ribeiro 32, Kleber 48, 51
Aside from the traditional rivalry between Brazilian and Argentinian teams, there was an interesting subplot to this Group 7 showdown. Beaten 2-0 by Velez in the opening game in the section, A Raposa had designs on a revenge win that would see them overtake El Fortín at the top of the group and dash their hopes of reaching the last 16 with a game to spare.
The Brazilians reached those objectives in style, thanks in the main to a superb display from strike tandem Thiago Ribeiro and Kleber, the former opening the scoring after leaving two opponents in his wake and thrashing an unstoppable shot past German Montoya. The scorer then turned provider, setting up Kleber for his sixth and seventh goals of the campaign with a pair of pinpoint passes. Those strikes took Kleber to the top of the scoring charts and also confirmed Cruzeiro’s rise to first place, ahead of the Argentinians on goal difference.
Surprise of the week
Now out of the running in Group 1 following a 2-1 defeat to Corinthians, Cerro Porteno can at least take pride from their enterprising display at the Pacaembu. The visitors made O Timão work hard for the points and could have snatched victory themselves had striker Roberto Nanni not spurned two excellent chances early on. Ronaldo’s close-range strike set the hosts on their way, however, and condemned the Paraguayans to an unexpected early exit.
Once Caldas did their hopes of qualifying from Group 2 a power of good by downing bottom side Nacional of Paraguay 1-0 at home. With one game remaining, the Colombians now stand top on 11 points, one clear of Sao Paulo, who were indebted to goalkeeper Rogerio Ceni for their goalless draw at Monterrey, a result that confirmed the Mexicans’ elimination. All will now be decided in three weeks time when O Tricolor Paulista play host to the group leaders in the final game. A win for the Brazilians will take them through for certain, while the Colombians need only a point.
In the only game in Group 3 Estudiantes won 2-0 at Juan Aurich to move a point clear of Alianza Lima, although the Peruvians can reclaim first place when they entertain pointless Bolivar next Thursday. Whatever happens in that game, the qualification places will only be decided when Alianza travel to La Plata in three weeks time, a fixture El Pincha have been looking forward to since crashing to a 4-1 defeat in Lima back in February.
A late goal for Lanus clouded the picture in Group 4 as they earned a 1-1 draw at Libertad to maintain their slender hopes of progressing. The Paraguayans, who have now drawn three in a row, are still out in front but can expect to be overhauled when Universitario take on bottom-placed Blooming at home next week.
Internacional are the new leaders in Group 5 after overcoming previous incumbents Cerro 2-0 at the Beira-Rio. Despite not being at their best, Jorge Fossati’s side were still too good for the Uruguayans and look well placed to advance to the knockout phase. In the other game in the pool Deportivo Quito edged out Ecuadorian rivals Emelec 1-0 to move level on points with Cerro.
Even though they were not in action, it proved to be a good week for Group 6 pacesetters Nacional of Uruguay, with their two closest challengers Monarcas Morelia and Banfield playing out a 1-1 draw in Mexico. The reigning Argentinian champions needed a 93rd-minute goal to rescue a point that has all but ended Monarcas’ hopes. El Taladro are now level on eight points with the leaders, who have played a game less and are at Deportivo Cuenca next week.
Player of the week
Rodrigo Brana (Estudiantes)
The 31-year old midfielder scored one of the goals of the season in Estudiantes’ impressive win at Juan Aurich. Winning possession in his own half, Brana skipped past Ricardo Ciciliano, looked up from the halfway line and struck a magnificent shot that sailed over the stranded Diego Morales and into the back of the net.
10 - The number of points collected so far by Sao Paulo and Velez Sarsfield, currently the top two of the eight second-placed sides. Flamengo have the least number of points in that octet but have only played three games to Sao Paulo and Velez’s five. With Mexico’s Guadalajara and San Luis already assured a place in the last 16, only the top six group runners-up will go through.
What they said
“We need to keep our feet on the ground and not delude ourselves. We’ve won tonight but that doesn’t mean we should go around thinking everything’s OK now, just as we didn’t go around thinking things were bleak when things weren’t going our way,” Internacional coach Jorge Fossati reacts to his side’s defeat of Cerro Porteno.