Copa Libertadores review

Four of Brazil’s five representatives in the Copa Libertadores 2010 tasted victory on home soil this week, with Corinthians, Flamengo and Internacional all enjoying winning starts to this year’s competition and Cruzeiro picking up their first three points in Group 7.

The sole Brazilian outfit playing away were also the only ones to suffer defeat, with 2005 champions Sao Paulo beaten by their 2004 counterparts Once Caldas in Group 2. Indeed, the reverse in Manizales was something of a déjà vu for O Tricolor Paulista, knocked out by the Colombian team at the semi-final stage six years ago.

It was a positive week for Argentinian sides, with in-form Velez Sarsfield and struggling Lanus both picking up important victories. brings you the best of the action from Latin America’s biggest club competition.

Game of the week
Corinthians 2-1 Racing Montevideo
Martin Cauteruccio 1' (Racing); Elias 10' and 70' (Corinthians)

Despite O Timão’s fans having whipped up a carnival atmosphere in the Estadio Pacaembu, it was their Uruguayan guests who drew first blood in the opening minute, Martin Cauteruccio taking advantage of defensive uncertainty to touch the ball past Felipe. The home side kept their heads, however, and were soon level following a neat combination between Ronaldo and Tcheco, whose exquisite first-time back-heeled pass split the visiting defence and enabled midfielder Elias to beat Racing keeper Jorge Contreras.

With the visitors down to ten men after the second-half dismissal of Dario Flores, Corinthians took full advantage to grab a winning goal. Dropping deep, Ronaldo fed Souza, who slipped a pass through to Elias, who again timed his run to perfection before firing coolly into the bottom corner.

Surprise of the week
Blooming 1-4 Lanus
Scorers: Luiz Vieira 9' (Blooming); Sebastian Blanco 23', Santiago Salcedo 39', Diego Lagos 60' and 75' (Lanus)

That Lanus should get back on the victory trail was less of a surprise than the emphatic manner of their win on Bolivian soil. On the back of defeats in their opening two Group 4 encounters, against Paraguay’s Libertad and Peru’s Universitario, as well as three consecutive reverses in the Argentinian Clausura, El Granate coach Luis Zubeldia must have feared the worst when Blooming took the lead after just nine minutes.

Lanus refused to buckle, however, and stormed back to a thumping 4-1 success that was kick-started by Sebastian Blanco’s 23-minute leveller. Zubeldia’s team now have three points, four behind joint-section leaders Libertad and Universitario, who played out a goalless draw in Lima.

In Group 5, Porto Alegre outfit Internacional were made to sweat for a 2-1 home victory over Ecuador’s Emelec. Inter, who gave a debut to Argentina international Roberto Abbondanzieri in goal, thus won their Libertadores opener for the first time in eight campaigns and moved joint-top of the section alongside Cerro of Uruguay.

In Group 2, Sao Paulo’s defeat by Once Caldas enabled the Colombian club to move three points clear in the standings, while Mexico’s Monterrey beat Nacional of Paraguay 2-1 to move level with O Tricolor Paulista on three points.

Reigning Brazilian champions Flamengo, for their part, made light of Willians’s red card after just two minutes to record a 2-0 win over Chile’s Universidad Catolica. Right-wingback Leo Moura capped an inspired display with a free-kick opener and created the second for star striker Adriano. The three points taok Fla top of Group 8, ahead of Universidad de Chile on goal difference.

In the Estadio Mineirao, Cruzeiro bounced back from their opening Group 7 defeat by Velez to record a 4-1 win over Colo-Colo, whose solid first-half display was undermined by two dismissals after the interval. Level at the break after Esteban Paredes cancelled out Thiago Ribeiro’s early effort, two Kleber penalties and a Pedro Ken strike put paid to El Cacique’s hopes. It was Cruzeiro’s seventh win from nine meetings with the Chilean heavyweights. High-flying Velez, who currently top the Argentinian Clausura standings, continued their flawless start to the group by beating Venezuela’s Deportivo Italia 1-0 away thanks to a strike by Uruguay’s Hernan Rodrigo Lopez.

Player of the week
Luis Tejada (Juan Aurich)
The Panamanian hitman continues to terrorise the continent’s finest defences, grabbing his fifth goal of the 2010 Libertadores in Peruvian outfit Juan Aurich’s 2-0 success over Bolivar. The strike moves him clear at the top of the scorers’ chart.

The stat
11 -
Though the Sao Paulo camp will be understandably dejected after their 2-1 defeat by Once Caldas, at least veteran keeper Rogerio Ceni had something to celebrate. The goalscoring custodian’s free-kick opener in Colombia was his 11th in the elite competition, thus overtaking Palhinha, Muller and Pedro Rocha as the club’s all-time Libertadores top scorer.

What they said
“At Flamengo there’s no designated free-kick taker: whoever’s most confident takes it. Adriano told me to aim at the third man in the wall and that’s where the ball went through. This game will go down as one of my best ever. It was special, particularly after everything I’ve been through,” Flamengo’s Leo Moura, who recently underwent an operation to remove a benign tumour from his nasal cavity.

This week’s results
Tuesday 23 February
Internacional (BRA) 2-1 Emelec (ECU)
Monarcas Morelia (MEX) 0-0 Nacional (URU)
Deportivo Italia (VEN) 0-1 Velez Sarsfield (ARG)

Wednesday 24 February
Corinthians (BRA) 2-1 Racing (URU)
Monterrey (MEX) 2-1 Nacional (PAR)
Juan Aurich (PER) 2-0 Bolivar (BOL)
Cruzeiro (BRA) 4-1 Colo-Colo (CHI)
Flamengo (BRA) 2-0 Universidad Catolica (CHI)

Thursday 25 February
Once Caldas (COL) 2-1 Sao Paulo (BRA)
Blooming (BOL) 1-4 Lanus (ARG)
Universitario (PER) 0-0 Libertad (PAR)