Liga de Quito, Universidad Catolica and Velez Sarsfield all sealed places in the last 16 of the Copa Libertadores this week as Independiente, the record seven-time champions, were eliminated. It was also a bad week for fellow Argentinian side Estudiantes, whose long unbeaten home run in the competition was ended. FIFA.com reflects on the latest action.
Game of the week
Cerro Porteno 1-2 Santos
Goals: Pedro Benitez 90 (Cerro Porteno); Danilo 11, Maikon Leite 48 (Santos)
Santos made light of the absence of Neymar and Elano to win on the road for the first time and stay firmly in the hunt in Group 5. Though they still lie third on goal difference behind the Paraguayans, O Peixe will progress to the next round if they beat the already eliminated Deportivo Tachira at home next week. As for El Ciclón, victory here would have taken them through, and they now face a testing assignment at new group leaders Colo-Colo in their final game, one they will most probably have to win to advance.
Surprise of the week
Estudiantes 0-3 Cruzeiro
Goals: Thiago Ribeiro 11, Walyson 45, Gilberto 82
Defeat to the Argentinians in the 2009 final has clearly been a source of motivation for Cruzeiro this year. Not content with thumping El Pincha 5-0 in Belo Horizonte a few weeks ago, the Brazilians rounded off a very impressive Group 7 campaign with another emphatic win in La Plata, even if it did come against a weakened Estudiantes line-up. Coach Cuca will be delighted with A Raposa’s group phase stats: five wins, one draw, 20 goals scored and only one conceded. Not surprisingly, Cruzeiro will have the best record of all the qualifiers for the knockout phase, which ensures them home advantage in the second legs of their ties.
Despite running out comfortable winners in Group 2, Junior de Barranquilla passed up a golden opportunity to ensure they would finish the group phase with the second-best record of the 16 qualifiers after drawing 1-1 at home to Leon de Huanuco. Leading through a Josimar Gomez goal, the Colombians looked set to end the section on 15 points only for Orlando Rodriguez to equalise for the Peruvians, who were already out of the competition. Gremio could have snatched top spot had they won at Oriente Petrolero, but they fell to a 3-0 defeat to finish second.
It was all change on the final matchday in Group 4, with Velez Sarsfield winning 3-0 at Caracas to dash the qualification hopes of the Venezuelans, who had started the game in pole position. A Maxi Moralez goal and a Santiago Silva brace powered El Fortín into the next round, where they will be joined by Universidad Catolica, who came from behind beat to beat fellow Chileans Union Espanola 2-1. Marcelo Canete scored a fortunate winner for Catolica, who return to the knockout phase for the first time 2002.
There was disappointment for Argentina in Group 8 as Independiente and Godoy Cruz both bade farewell. El Rey de Copas needed to win very big at Penarol to qualify but could only manage a 1-0 victory, which at least took them up to third. That was one place better than the men from Mendoza, who slumped to a 2-0 defeat at Liga de Quito, a result that sent LDU through as section winners, with Penarol, who were already through, taking second.
Finally, Deportes Tolima won the battle of the also-rans in Group 7, beating pointless Guarani 2-0.
Player of the week
Hernan Barcos (Liga de Quito)
Liga’s Argentinian forward celebrated in style just a day after turning 27, setting up Luis Bolanos for his side’s first goal against Godoy Cruz and then hitting the target himself with a brilliant solo effort. “I’ve never scored a goal like that before,” he confessed after helping to take the Ecuadorians through to the next round and sending his compatriots out.
27 - The number of years since Estudiantes were last beaten at home in the Libertadores. Since going down 1-0 to Olimpia of Paraguay on 27 April 1984, El Pincha had won 21 out of 23 home games, drawing the other two.
What they said
“I sent the cross in, the ball came off a defender and in it went. But they all count. We’re playing well and that’s what really matters,” Velez Sarsfield striker Santiago Silva relives the first of his two goals against Caracas.
This week's results
Penarol (URU) 0-1 Independiente (ARG)
Liga de Quito (ECU) 2-0 Godoy Cruz (ARG)
Colo-Colo (CHI) 2-1 Deportivo Tachira (VEN)
Estudiantes (ARG) 0-3 Cruzeiro (BRA)
Guarani (PAR) 0-2 Deportes Tolima (COL)
Universidad Catolica (CHI) 2-1 Union Espanola (CHI)
Caracas FC (VEN) 0-3 Velez Sarsfield (ARG)
Oriente Petrolero (BOL) 3-0 Gremio (BRA)
Junior (COL) 1-1 Leon de Huanuco (PER)
Cerro Porteno (PAR) 1-2 Santos (BRA)