Guadalajara, Sao Paulo, Universidad de Chile and Internacional all secured important victories in the first legs of their Copa Libertadores quarter-final ties, heaping the pressure on their respective opponents: Libertad, Cruzeiro, Flamengo and Estudiantes.
FIFA.com has the story on how the week’s four games unfolded.
The most surprising thing about this thrilling, high-tempo encounter was that it only produced five goals. With chances flowing freely at either end the score could easily have been doubled.
Counter-attacking to great effect in the opening quarter, the Chilean side rocked their benevolent hosts by opening up a two-goal lead. Spurred on by their faithful fans, Os Rubro-negros hit back, carving out a succession of chances, one of which was taken by Adriano.
Reduced to ten men following the dismissal of Manuel Iturra, La U nevertheless restored their two-goal lead shortly after the break. And though Juan gave Flamengo some hope late on, the Santiago side held on for their second victory in three games against the Brazilians this year and are well set to progress to the last four.
Surprise of the week
Cruzeiro 0-2 Sao Paulo
Goals: Dagoberto 23, Hernanes 65
Even the most ardent of Sao Paulo fans could not have expected their inconsistent side to record such an impressive win away to last year’s runners-up. Producing some flowing football, Ricardo Gomes’s side were indebted to a sparkling display from their recent signing, veteran forward Fernandao, who dovetailed to perfection with his new team-mates.
Despite boasting the most prolific attack in this year’s competition and a 100 per cent record at the Mineirao, Cruzeiro could make little headway against the tightest defence in the tournament, which was superbly drilled despite the absence of Miranda. A Raposa will need their talismanic strike duo of Thiago Ribeiro and Kleber to be at their very best at the Morumbi next week if they are to stay in the competition and thwart Sao Paulo’s hopes of securing a fourth Copa crown.
Guadalajara followed up their impressive 3-0 home defeat of Velez Sarsfield in the last 16 by chalking up the same scoreline against Libertad. The impressive Mexicans have a comfortable cushion to take with them to Asuncion for the second leg and look poised to advance to the semis for only the third time in their history.
In a meeting that pitched the 2006 champions against last year’s winners, Internacional sneaked to a 1-0 win over Estudiantes. Inter’s Uruguayan defender Gonzalo Sorondo headed the only goal of the game two minutes from time to set O Colorado up nicely for next week’s return in Argentina. In the meantime, the men from La Plata have the distraction of a last-day Clausura title duel with Argentinos Juniors to contend with.
Player of the week
Omar Bravo (Guadalajara)
The 30-year-old Mexican striker continues to pose a potent threat to opposing defences. The scorer of two goals against Velez Sarsfield in the last round, Bravo repeated the trick against Libertad to put Chivas on the brink of the semi-finals.
650 - The total number of minutes that Sao Paulo keeper Rogerio Ceni has now gone without conceding a goal in the tournament. The goalscoring custodian last picked the ball out of the net against Once Caldas on 25 February. Since then, his side have won four games and drawn three.
What they said
“We couldn’t be happier with the way the team played. We’d looked at their defensive weaknesses and we capitalised on them in the opening 20 minutes by playing a fast and effective game. The players put in a tremendous amount of effort and it was an extremely clever performance in which we had to face and overcome a lot of tricky situations,” Universidad de Chile’s Uruguayan coach Gerardo Pelusso reacts to his side’s win at the Maracana.
Chivas (MEX) 3-0 Libertad (PAR)
Flamengo (BRA) 2-3 Universidad de Chile (CHI)
Cruzeiro (BRA) 0-2 Sao Paulo (BRA)
Internacional (BRA) 1-0 Estudiantes (ARG)