Libertad of Paraguay and Colombia’s Junior became the first sides to take their places in the knockout phase of the Copa Libertadores 2011 this week, with the latter doing so with a 100 per cent record. Also in the headlines were Internacional, Cruzeiro, Estudiantes and Liga de Quito, all of whom posted emphatic victories to further their respective causes. FIFA.com rounds up those stories and the rest of the week’s action in Latin America’s number one club competition.
Americo Gallego maintained his fine record since taking over as Cacique coach, his new charges coming through in a five-goal thriller to take the lead in Group 5. Esteban Paredes’s fine performance included a sharp toe-poke finish, although the pick of the evening’s goals was scored by Neymar, who collected Paulo Henrique Ganso’s pass and dribbled expertly round Colo Colo keeper Paulo Castillo. It counted for little, though, as the winless Brazilians stayed third.
Surprise of the week
Argentinos Juniors 0-1 Nacional
Goal: Santiago Garcia 33
Juan Ramon Carrasco’s side gained rapid revenge for their defeat to Los Bichos Colorados in Montevideo two weeks ago, Santiago Garcia taking advantage of some slack defending to end Argentinos’ unbeaten record in Group 3 and move El Bolso up to third. Despite their qualification push being put on hold, Pedro Troglio’s side remain top of the section.
Seven points on the road and three at home were enough to give Libertad the honour of becoming the first team to take their place in the next round. The Group 1 leaders confirmed their safe passage when Sergio Aquino’s penalty gave them a 1-0 win at second-placed San Martin of Peru. In the other game in the pool, Once Caldas and San Luis played out a 1-1 draw that leaves both sides with much to do.
Junior joined El Gumarelo in the last 16 when they beat Oriente Petrolero 2-1 at home on Thursday to keep their 100 per cent record intact in Group 2. The Colombians had to work hard for their prize, however, falling behind just after the break before hitting back through two goals from substitute Carlos Bacca, the second of them from the spot. The battle for second place is now between Leon de Huanuco and Gremio, who drew 1-1 in Peru.
Two Brazilian sides to win this week were Internacional and Cruzeiro. The holders stayed unbeaten and on top in Group 6 thanks to a comfortable 4-1 win at Bolivia’s Jorge Wilstermann, with Emelec moving into second after David Quiroz’s penalty gave them maximum points at home to Jaguares.
In Group 7, meanwhile, Cruzeiro put one foot in the next round after sweeping Colombia’s Deportes Tolima aside 6-1. Estudiantes, the 2009 champions, remain just a point behind in second thanks to a commanding 5-1 defeat of Guarani, with Hernan Lopez helping himself to a hat-trick and Leandro Gonzalez scoring the other two for El Pincha.
And staying on the subject of big victories, Liga de Quito recorded one of their own when they put five past Uruguay’s Penarol in the Ecuadorian capital on Thursday. Fresh from dishing out similar treatment to Independiente, El Albo treated their fans to another commanding display as they moved out front in Group 8 in impressive style.
Player of the week
Hernan Rodrigo Lopez (Estudiantes)
The Uruguayan forward had a night to remember in La Plata, scoring three of his side’s goals in their thumping defeat of Guarani, all of them with his head. Sidelined for much of last year with an injury, the 33-year-old is hoping to collect a second Libertadores winner’s medal, his first coming in 2002 with Olimpia of Paraguay.
15 - The number of goals Cruzeiro, who have yet to score away from home, have racked up in this year’s competition so far - more than any other side. Hugely impressive at their Belo Horizonte fortress, A Raposa have now beaten Estudiantes 5-0, Guarani 4-0 and Deportes Tolima 6-1.
What they said
“It’s my fault we lost this game. It was my responsibility to take the penalty and I missed it. The team paid the price for that and I’ve got no excuses.”
Herbert Arriola shoulders the blame after missing from the spot in San Martin's defeat by Libertad.
This week’s results
Argentinos Juniors (ARG) 0-1 Nacional (URU)
San Martin (PER) 0-1 Libertad (PAR)
Once Caldas (MEX) 1-1 San Luis (MEX)
Jorge Wilsterman (BOL) 1-4 Internacional (BRA)
Cruzeiro (BRA) 6-1 Deportes Tolima (COL)
Emelec (BRA) 1-0 Jaguares (MEX)
Colo Colo (CHI) 3-2 Santos (BRA)
Leon de Huanuco (PER) 1-1 Gremio (BRA)
Estudiantes (ARG) 5-1 Guarani (PAR)
Liga de Quito (ECU) 5-0 Penarol (URU)
Junior (COL) 2-1 Oriente Petrolero (BOL)