Only one of the week’s 14 group games in the Copa Libertadores de America ended scoreless, with the remaining 13 yielding a handsome haul of 41 goals. Among the teams to win big were Cruzeiro, Gremio, Universidad San Martin, Velez Sarsfield and Cerro Porteno.
FIFA.com rounds up the action as the group phase in the latest edition of Latin America’s leading club competition got into full swing.
Game of the week
Cruzeiro 5-0 Estudiantes
Cruzeiro showed no mercy against a shapeless Estudiantes side, exacting a measure of revenge for their defeat to the Argentinians in the 2009 final. Wallyson started the rout inside 60 seconds and ended it eight minutes from time. In the meantime A Raposa’s Argentinian star Walter Montillo added two more and Roger chipped in with another, as the Brazilians inflicted the biggest Copa Libertadores defeat El Pincha have ever suffered and took top spot in Group 7.
Surprise of the week
Once Caldas 0-3 Universidad San Martin
The Peruvian champions pulled off something of a shock in sauntering to victory against their Colombian counterparts. An Heber Arriola brace and a Ariel Alemano strike fired Universidad to their first Copa win on the road in the competition in eight attempts and put them in charge in Group 1. The defeat was Once’s first in 22 home games in the competition.
There was to be no away win for defending champions Internacional, however, as Group 6 rivals Emelec held them in check in Ecuador. Leading through a Mario Bolatti goal, O Colorado looked set to collect all three points, only for Fernando Gimenez to restore parity with a stoppage-time penalty. Topping the section are Mexico’s Jaguares, who downed Jorge Wilsterman 2-0 at home, the goals coming from Miguel Martinez and Ricardo Esqueda.
Compatriots America also got off to a winning start, seeing off Uruguay’s Nacional 2-0 in Mexico City. Former Bolso man Vicente Sanchez opened the scoring against his old club and Matias Vuoso added a second to give Las Águilas an early lead in Group 3. One Mexican side to come away empty-handed this week were San Luis, beaten 2-1 at home by Paraguay’s Libertad in their Group 1 meeting. Nicolas Pavlovich and Sergio Aquino were the men on target for El Gumarelo, while Manuel Cavallo scored for the hosts.
The prolific Neymar’s scoring run came to an end in Venezuela, where Santos could only register a goalless draw against Deportivo Tachira. O Peixe’s unproductive evening leaves them trailing behind Cerro Porteno in Group 5. Inspired by two goals from their young Argentinian star Juan Iturbe, the Paraguayans proved too strong for a struggling Colo Colo side and surged to an emphatic 5-2 win.
Gremio were no less impressive in putting Bolivia’s Oriente Petrolero to the sword in Group 2, a Douglas double and a Gilson goal giving them an easy 3-0 win. In the other game in the pool Colombia’s Junior overcame Copa new boys Leon de Huanuco 2-1 in Peru, John Viafara and Carlos Bacca the men on target.
Fellow debutants Godoy Cruz enjoyed better luck as goals from the Sanchez boys, Carlos and Nicolas, gave them an exciting 2-1 win over former champions Liga Deportiva Universitaria de Quito in Mendoza in Group 8.
Velez Sarsfield were barely troubled in collecting all three points against Caracas in Group 4. El Fortinero’s path to victory was smoothed by Angelo Pena’s early dismissal, the prelude to unanswered goals from Maximiliano Moralez, David Ramirez and Jose Martinez. The Argentinians top the group ahead of Chilean duo Union Espanola and Universidad Catolica, who played out a vibrant 2-2 draw in Santiago. Taking the lead early in the second half, Union then fell behind before Braulio Leal salvaged a point from the spot in injury time.
Finally, Colombia’s Deportes Tolima made a solid start in Group 7, Danny Santoya’s solitary strike seven minutes from time edging them to victory against Parguayan hopefuls Guarani.
Player of the week
Walter Montillo (Cruzeiro)
Dubbed the Blue Knight for pretending to ride a horse every time he celebrates a goal, the 26-year-old Argentinian playmaker turned in a virtually flawless performance against Estudiantes, his finest since joining A Raposa six months ago. As well as scoring twice, Montillo proved a constant threat to the Pincha rearguard.
13 - The number of times Emelec of Ecuador have now faced Brazilian teams in the Libertadores without yet managing to register a win. In losing nine of those games and drawing the other four – three of them at home – the Ecuadorians have scored eight goals and conceded 23.
What they said
“I was pleased with the way we went out there and got the job done. We never stopped fighting either. Even so, no matter how well we play, I’m never going to be entirely satisfied because there all always improvements you can make in any area. We’ll make mistakes for sure, but the important thing was to get off to a good start,” Gremio coach Renato Gaucho.