Copa Libertadores review

The home teams in the first legs of the six preliminary-round ties of the Copa Libertadores 2010 all managed to avoid defeat. picks out the highlights from the tournament’s opening exchanges. 

Game of the week
Colon 3-2 Universidad Catolica
Goals: Federico Nieto 5, Esteban Fuertes 65, Nicolas Bertoglio 68 (Colon); Juan Jose Morales 34, 80 (Universidad Catolica)

Though El Sabalero always seemed to have the edge in an entertaining, end-to-end game in Santa Fe, they missed a host of clear-cut chances and could yet rue Morales’s double and their failure to capitalise fully on Jorge Ormeno’s dismissal. An exciting conclusion beckons in Santiago in two weeks’ time.

Surprise of the week
Atletico Junior 2-2 Racing Montevideo
Goals: Emerson Acuna 12, Martin Arzuaga 90 (Atletico Junior); Matias Mirabaje 28, Ignacio Pallas 68 (Racing Club)

The enterprising Uruguayans acquitted themselves well on their first-ever appearance in the competition, coming desperately close to pulling off a shock win. Arzuaga’s injury-time strike denied them victory after a fine comeback, and kept the Colombians’ hopes of reaching the group stage intact.

Last year’s runners-up Cruzeiro failed to make the most of their fine start away to an ambitious Real Potosi and had to settle for a 1-1 draw. The Brazilians will be confident, nevertheless, of finishing the job off in the imposing surroundings of the Estadio Mineirao next Wednesday.

Making only their second appearance in the tournament, Peru’s Juan Aurich recorded the most emphatic win of the week, seeing off Libertadores debutants Estudiantes Tecos 2-0 in Chiclayo. The man who made the difference was new signing Luis Tejada, the scorer of both his side’s goals.

Deportivo Tachira also made home advantage count, edging out Paraguayan giants Libertad 1-0 in Venezuela. Armando Maita scored the only goal of the night for Los Aurinegros, who managed to hold on to their lead despite having midfielder Pedro Fernandez sent off midway through the second half. Having reached the last 16 in 2009, the men from Asuncion have work to do if they are to make the group phase.

Finally, despite the support of a full house at the newly-renamed Estadio Marcelo Bielsa, Newell’s Old Boys could find no way past a stubborn Emelec side. Los Eléctricos mounted a solid rearguard action against the Argentinian Apertura 2009 runners-up and returned to Ecuador with a potentially valuable goalless draw.

Player of the week
Luis Tejada (Juan Aurich)
The 26-year-old Panamanian striker joined the Peruvians at the start of the season and has already rewarded their faith with goals. His double against Estudiantes Tecos has taken his new team to the brink of the group phase.

The stat
The number of different clubs that have now played in the competition throughout its illustrious history, Estudiantes Tecos and Racing Montevideo becoming the latest sides to make their debuts.

What they said
“We’re going to have more space in Ecuador because Emelec will have to come out and take the game to us. I’m confident. Obviously it wasn’t the greatest performance, but we didn’t play that badly either.” Newell’s coach Nestor Sensini

This week’s results
Tuesday 26
Colon (ARG) 3-2 Universidad Catolica (CHI)
Deportivo Tachira (VEN) 1-0 Libertad (PAR) 

Wednesday 27
Newell’s Old Boys (ARG) 0-0 Emelec (ECU)
Juan Aurich (PER) 2-0 Estudiantes Tecos (MEX)
Real Potosi (BOL) 1-1 Cruzeiro (BRA)

Thursday 28
Atletico Junior (COL) 2-2 Racing Montevideo (URU)