Mixed bag for Copa favourites

The leading contenders for the 2008 Copa Libertadores crown experienced differing fortunes in week four of the showpiece tournament. FIFA.com looks back at three days of action that brought a full house for the Mexicans, more solid performances from the Brazilians and further worries for San Lorenzo of Argentina, who showed signs of improvement but are still winless this season.

Game of the week
America 2-1 Universidad Catolica
Group 5
Goals: Salvador Cabanas 38, Federico Higuain 90 (America); Dario Botinelli 70 (Universidad Catolica)

America began the week in turmoil after sacking coach Daniel Brailovsky. His replacement Ruben Romano made sure the Aguilas enjoyed a winning 2008 Copa debut, however, by guiding the crisis-stricken Mexicans to victory over the Chilean league leaders at the Estadio Azteca. The hosts left it late, though, claiming the points at the end of a pulsating match thanks to an injury-time strike from Federico Higuain, the brother of Real Madrid star Gonzalo.

Surprise of the week
UA Maracaibo 1-1 Boca Juniors
Group 3
Goals: Mea Vitali 80 (UA Maracaibo); Sebastian Battaglia 86 (Boca Juniors)

Although there were two wins on the road this week, there is little doubt that UA Maracaibo's battling home draw against holders Boca Juniors was the finest performance of the last three days. Cheered on by a packed stadium, the spirited Venezuelans came with minutes of a famous win after Mea Vitali had put them ahead with a superb free kick. Even though Sebastian Battaglia hit back almost immediately to tie it up at 1-1, the national press was full of praise for the hosts for their "history-making" draw. The stalemate also meant that Argentinian clubs have gone a whole five years without a win in Venezuela in continental club competitions.

The dead-ball specialists were at it again this week. After Vitali had shown Boca what he could do, Luciano Leguizamon gave another salutary lesson in the art of free-kick taking with a sublime effort to ensure Arsenal took the points against Libertad. With Group 8 rivals LDU Quito and Fluminense sharing the points in a 0-0 draw in Ecuador, the narrow win took the 2007 Copa Sudamericana champions straight to the top of the section.

While last week saw a string of successes for home sides, Tuesday's three encounters finally brought some away-day joy, with Sportivo Luqueno and Nacional both triumphing on the road. The Paraguayans kicked off their campaign with a fine 2-1 defeat of Audax Italiano in Santiago, and the Montevideo giants revived their Group 4 bid with the slenderest of victories over Coronel Bolognesi. Bruno Fornaroli ninth-minute strike set El Bolso on the way and goalkeeper Alexis Viera made sure of the points when he kept out Junior Ross's penalty in the dying stages.

There was no home slip-up for CD Guadalajara, however, as they completed a routine 2-0 victory over Bolivians San Jose. Argentinian contenders San Lorenzo were not so fortunate in their eagerly awaited Group 1 clash with Cruzeiro. Held to a goalless draw, ElCiclón have yet to win this season and even at this early stage their chances of progressing are gradually receding. The Brazilians, meanwhile, are sitting pretty at the top of the section with four points.

Deportivo Cuenca and Danubio played out a goalless stalemate of their own in Ecuador on Thursday, although the Uruguayans were grateful for small mercies after slumping away to Lanus last week.

Number crunching

4,000. On Tuesday evening Audax Italiano and Sportivo Luqueno contested the 4,000th match in the history of the Copa Libertadores. The tournament began in 1960, quickly becoming the most coveted prize in continental club football.

What they said
"This is an historic draw for one very simple reason - we were up against the best team in South America. We could have won but we switched off at the end and gave away two points. None the less, we showed that Venezuelan football keeps on improving," UA Maracaibo striker Dario Figueroa expresses his satisfaction after Wednesday's 1-1 draw with reigning champions Boca Juniors.

This week's results
Tuesday 19
Coronel Bolognesi (PER) 0-1 Nacional (URU)
CD Guadalajara (MEX) 2-0 San Jose (BOL)
Audax Italiano (CHI) 1-2 Sportivo Luqueno (PAR)

Wednesday 20
UA Maracaibo (VEN) 1 -1 Boca Juniors (ARG)
America (MEX) 2-1 Universidad Catolica (CHI)
Arsenal (ARG) 1-0 Libertad (PAR)
LDU Quito (ECU) 0-0 Fluminense (BRA)

Thursday 21
San Lorenzo (ARG) 0-0 Cruzeiro (BRA)
Deportivo Cuenca (ECU) 0-0 Danubio (URU)
Atlas (MEX) 3-0 Colo Colo (CHI)