Copa Libertadores review

The line-up for the quarter-finals of the Copa Libertadores 2010 was decided this week, with Cruzeiro and holders Estudiantes easing through and Flamengo putting paid to Corinthians’ chances. Squeezing into the last eight with them were Universidad de Chile, Libertad, Guadalajara, Internacional and Sao Paulo. reviews the latest developments.

Game of the week
Corinthians 2-1 Flamengo
Goals: David 27, Ronaldo 39 (Corinthians); Vagner Love 49 (Flamengo)

This meeting between the two best-supported teams in Brazil proved to be as tight and tense as expected. A goal down from the first leg, Corinthians seemed to have the tie under control at the break only for Vagner Love to stun them with a cool finish four minutes into the second half.

Try as they might, O Timão, who had reached the group phase with the best record of the 16 qualifiers, could not find a riposte, their hopes of winning the Libertadores in their centenary year vanishing into the night. After scraping into the Round of 16 on goal difference only, meanwhile, Flamengo now look serious candidates. 

Surprise of the week
Sao Paulo 0-0 Universitario

Following last week’s goalless draw in Peru, the Brazilians were widely tipped to ease into the next round. Yet, events did not go according to plan, with Universitario containing an apprehensive Sao Paulo and forcing a penalty shoot-out that had the Morumbi faithful on tenterhooks, especially when goalscoring goalkeeper Rogerio Ceni missed his spot-kick. The flamboyant custodian redeemed himself, however, making two vital saves to send the nervy three-times champions through. 

There were no such scares for Estudiantes and Cruzeiro, last year’s finalists. El Pincha followed up their 1-0 win over San Luis in Mexico with a comfortable 3-1 triumph at home. Leandro Gonzalez put the holders ahead, with Diego de la Torre replying for the visitors before Leandro Benitez killed the tie off with a double.

A Raposa enjoyed an even smoother passage to the last eight, downing Nacional 3-0 in Montevideo to complete a resounding 6-2 aggregate win. Thiago Ribeiro, the scorer of all three of his side’s goals in the first leg, set the Brazilians on the way again with a fine free-kick, with Diego Renan and Gilberto completing the scoring. The only flat note of the evening for Cruzeiro came with Leonardo Silva’s dismissal.

Guadalajara needed their 3-0 lead from the first leg as they survived a spirited comeback by Velez Sarsfield. El Fortín pulled a goal back through Santiago Silva in their very first attack but could only conjure up one more goal despite creating a string of chances. The reasons for that were some wayward finishing and a fine display from Chivas keeper Liborio Sanchez as Guadalajara reprised their 2006 quarter-final win over the Argentinian side.

Internacional’s solitary goal in their 3-1 first-leg reverse at Banfield came in very handy as they recorded a 2-0 win to advance on the away-goals rule. Alecsandro and Walter were on target for O Colorado as they clinched a place in the quarters for the first time since 2006, the year they won their only Libertadores prize to date. Waiting for them in the next round are Estudiantes, the side they beat to win the Copa Sudamericana 2008.

The week’s other two games both yielded dramatic conclusions. An 89th-minute Roberto Gamarra goal gave Libertad a 2-1 win over former champions Once Caldas in Asuncion and took them into the last eight for only the third time in their history. Dayro Moreno had seemingly set the Colombians on the road to victory when he scored with 35 minutes remaining. Needing two goals to advance, the Paraguayans got them through Gamarra, who slotted home from the penalty spot before firing in the winner with time running out.

There was more nail-biting drama in Santiago, where Felipe Seymour’s injury-time strike sent Universidad de Chile through at the expense of Alianza Lima. Trailing 1-0 from the first leg, the Peruvian side levelled the tie through Jose Fernandez before Eduardo Vargas put the hosts back in charge. Fernandez’s scored again with just four minutes remaining to put Las Aliancistas ahead on away goals. But then came Seymour’s thumping late volley as La U went through the last eight for the first time in 14 years.

Player of the week
Roberto Gamarra (Libertad)
The 28-year-old striker was El Gumarelo’s hero of the night against Once Caldas, scoring two late goals to send the Paraguayans into the next round. Gamarra is now Libertad’s leading scorer in the competition with five goals.

The stat
- The number of minutes Estudiantes had gone without conceding a goal in the competition until De la Torre’s equaliser for San Luis seven minutes into the second leg in La Plata. The last time Pincha goalkeeper Agustin Orion had to pick the ball out of the net in the Libertadores was in the 83rd minute of their 4-1 defeat away to Alianza Lima in the group phase in February. 

What they said
“It’s true that to some extent we set out to defend the lead we built up in Mexico, but there’s no doubt that Velez pushed us back. It’s our first loss in Argentina but it still feels like a victory,” Guadalajara coach Jose Luis Real.

This week's results
Velez Sarsfield (ARG) 2–0 Guadalajara (MEX)
Sao Paulo (BRA) 0 (4) – 0 (1) Universitario (PER)

Estudiantes (ARG) 3–1 San Luis (MEX)
Corinthians (BRA) 2–1 Flamengo (BRA)
Nacional (URU) 0–3 Cruzeiro (BRA)

Internacional (BRA) 2–0 Banfield (ARG)
Universidad de Chile (CHI) 2–2 Alianza Lima (PER)
Libertad (PAR) 2–1 Once Caldas (COL)

Quarter-final fixtures
Flamengo (BRA) - Universidad de Chile (CHI)
Guadalajara (MEX) - Libertad (PAR)
Cruzeiro (BRA) - Sao Paulo (BRA)
Internacional (BRA) - Estudiantes (ARG)