Copa Libertadores review
Week four of the Copa Libertadores proved a good one for home teams, with five of the six games on the card going their way. Among the victims were 2009 winners Estudiantes, while fellow Argentinians Banfield maintained their perfect start with a commanding performance at Deportivo Cuenca. FIFA.com takes a closer look.
Despite falling behind to Sosa’s shock opener after only eight seconds, Gustavo Costas’s side proved too strong for the reigning champions. Leading the way for Alianza was Wilmer Aguirre, who struck a superb hat-trick to turn the game around. Fernandez added a fourth late on with a fine right-footed drive as the Peruvians recorded a deserved win that took them to the top of Group 3 with six points out of six.
Surprise of the week
Deportivo Cuenca 1-4 Banfield
Goals: Gabriel Mendez 87 (Deportivo Cuenca); Walter Erviti 36, Sebastian Fernandez 38 and 61, James Rodriguez 71 (Banfield)
The hard-running Argentinian champions made light of the city of Cuenca’s high altitude to produce a dominant four-goal display that underlined their title credentials. Julio Falcioni’s impressive side have won both their opening matches to take command in Group 6. Still without a point, the Ecuadorians lie bottom of the section and have much to do to get back into contention.
Chilean giants Colo-Colo had not won their opening game in the competition in their last 11 attempts, a record that finally came to an end against a stubborn Deportivo Italia side on Tuesday. With keepers Jose Carlos Fernandez and Francisco Prieto in fine form, it looked set to be a goalless evening at the Monumental until a flash of individual brilliance from Chile midfielder Esteban Paredes secured the three points for El Cacique and took them to second place in Group 7.
Lanus’s miserable recent run continued as they suffered their fifth straight defeat in all competitions. Universitario were their conquerors on this occasion, running out comfortable 2-0 victors in Lima. Piero Alva put the Peruvians ahead with a classy solo effort before Gianfranco Labarthe capped the win with a late goal. La U have taken maximum points from their two games and lie second in Group 4. Topping the section are Libertad, who overwhelmed Blooming 4-0 in Asuncion and have looked mightily impressive since scraping through the preliminary round.
Finally, Universidad de Chile began their Group 8 campaign with a 1-0 win over Caracas in front of a full house in Vina del Mar. Juan Manuel Olivera’s early penalty put the Chileans on the road to victory, though coach Gerardo Pelusso will not have been pleased with his charges’ lacklustre second-half showing.
Player of the week
Wilmer Aguirre (Alianza Lima)
Estudiantes could be forgiven for having nightmares about the former Metz forward on Thursday. Not content with hitting three high-quality goals, the 26-year-old also set up his side’s fourth and was a constant menace throughout with his surging runs.
8 - The number of seconds it took Estudiantes to open the scoring in Peru. Receiving the ball straight from the kick-off, Alianza Lima centre-half Hector Sosa had his clearance charged down by namesake Jose, who took the ball round the keeper and rolled it into the net. It was the fastest goal ever scored in the competition’s history.
What they said
“I can’t explain why the team is struggling at the moment. Last year everything was wonderful and now we’re going through a bad patch. But that’s what football’s about I suppose. We just need to get on with things. There’s nothing else we can do,” Lanus coach Luis Zubeldia, who stood down after returning to Buenos Aires. The Lanus board refused to accept his resignation, however, and he will stay in the post.
This week’s results
Colo-Colo (CHI) 1-0 Deportivo Italia (VEN)
Libertad (PAR) 4-0 Blooming (BOL)
Universitario (PER) 2-0 Lanus (ARG)
Deportivo Cuenca (ECU) 1-4 Banfield (ARG)
Alianza Lima (PER) 4-1 Estudiantes (ARG)
Universidad de Chile (CHI) 1-0 Caracas (VEN)