Cruzeiro and Estudiantes, the two sides who contested the Copa Libertadores final in 2009, this week made sure of places in the knockout phase of the year's competition. Two sides who seem set to join them and the already-qualified duo of Libertad and Junior are Internacional and Penarol, both of whom collected valuable wins. FIFA.com reviews the latest action from Latin America’s premier club competition.
Match of the week
Penarol 2-1 Godoy Cruz
Goals: Juan Manuel Olivera 42, Nicolas Freitas 70; Dario Rodriguez 57 og
In an exciting encounter, El Carbonero chalked up only their eighth Libertadores home win against Argentinian opposition in 26 attempts. Having taken to the top of Group 8 with nine points, Penarol are now well placed to advance to the last 16 for the first time in nine years, having failed on their last three attempts. Defeat dropped the men from Mendoza down to second place, and their hopes of progressing now hang in the balance.
Estudiantes became the first Argentinian team to reach the knockout stage after securing a 1-1 at Deportes Tolima in Group 7. Federico Fernandez headed the visitors into the lead midway through the first half, with Felix Noguera replaying for the Colombians from the penalty spot just before the break. The draw, which spelt the end of Deportes’s qualification hopes, means El Pincha have now reached the last 16 of the competition in their last five attempts.
Also advancing from the same section are Cruzeiro, who overcame the still-pointless Guarani 2-0 in Paraguay. Thiago Ribeiro and Jose Ortigoza scored either side of half-time to secure another victory for the Brazilians, who are virtually assured of winning the section thanks to their haul of 13 points and a goal difference of +16. Victory over Estudiantes in their final game could well give them the best record of all the qualifiers for the next round, an achievement that would allow them to contest the second legs of their knockout ties at home.
Reigning champions Internacional look all but certain to join their fellow Brazilians after downing Wilsterman 3-0 at home, a result that confirmed the Bolivian side’s exit from the competition. Andres D'Alessandro and Ze Roberto were the men on target for O Colorado, who head Group 6 with ten points and need just one more to go through. Inter's fellow title contenders will need no reminding that on the last two occasions the Porto Alegre side reached the knockout phase of the Libertadores, they went on to win the trophy.
Player of the week
Juan Manuel Olivera (Penarol)
The 29-year-old forward is Penarol’s leading marksman in the competition, having scored all three of his goals against Godoy Cruz, from whom the Uruguayans have collected six of their nine points. The well-travelled Oliveira joined Penarol at the start of the year from Al-Shabab of Saudi Arabia, having previously played in Mexico, Chile, Korea Republic and China PR.
25 - The number of years since Bolivia’s Wilsterman last won away from home in the Libertadores. El Aviador, who took part in the inaugural competition in 1960, have not been victorious on the road since 25 May 1986, when they won 2-1 at Universitario de Deportes of Peru, a rare triumph that has been followed by 15 defeats and a draw in their last 16 away outings.
What they said
“We started well but then had problems, which was down to our shortcomings and their good play. What matters, though, is that we got what we came for: a place in the next round,” Leandro Desabato of Estudiantes weighs up his side’s 1-1 draw in Colombia.
Deportes Tolima (COL) 1–1 Estudiantes (ARG)
Guarani (PAR) 0–2 Cruzeiro (BRA)
Internacional (BRA) 3-0 Wilsterman (BOL)
Penarol (URU) 2–1 Godoy Cruz (ARG)