Copa Libertadores review
Thanks to a 1-0 defeat of Bolivar, Alianza Lima became the third side to clinch their place in the last 16 of the 2010 Copa Libertadores. The Peruvians join San Luis and Guadalajara in the knockout phase, the Mexican duo have been given a bye after pulling out of last year’s competition due to the swine flu epidemic.
FIFA.com rounds up the latest developments in Latin America’s leading club competition.
Making light of the incessant rain, the leading two sides in Group 8 served up a vibrant, fluctuating encounter that kept the fans guessing right to the end. Fla hit back after falling behind on the stroke of half-time but were made to pay for sitting on their hard-earned lead, Rodriguez’s injury-time strike securing a crucial point for the Chileans, who remain top of the section with two games remaining.
Surprise of the week
Universitario 0-0 Blooming
Crema fans turned out in numbers in expectation of a comfortable win over the already-eliminated Blooming. Events did not go according to plan, however, as the stubborn Bolivians held firm in a goalless draw that jeopardises the Peruvians’ hopes of advancing from Group 4. Second behind Libertad on goal difference, Universitario must avoid defeat away to Lanus of Argentina to make sure of second.
Compatriots Alianza Lima made no such mistake against bottom-placed Bolivar in Group 3, an early Jose Fernandez goal giving them a 1-0 win that took them back to the top of the pool and secured their ticket to the next round. Even if they lose the leadership in their final game against Estudiantes, the Peruvians will still progress as one of the six best second-placed teams.
Nacional of Uruguay passed up a fine opportunity to all but secure their passage when they were held to a 0-0 draw at Deportivo Cuenca, a result that confirmed the Ecuadorian side’s exit. El Bolso almost won it at the death, but goalkeeper Esteban Dreer stood firm to keep out Gustavo Varela’s 82nd-minute penalty. Despite the setback, the Uruguayans remain clear leaders in Group 6 and are guaranteed a top-two finish with one round of games remaining.
Colo Colo maintained their flickering aspirations in Group 7 with a nervy 3-2 win in Venezuela over Deportivo Italia. Though they had already been knocked out, the hosts took the lead before Ezequiel Miralles led a Cacique fightback with two of his side’s goals. Three points behind second-placed Cruzeiro, the Chilean champions need a big win at home to the Brazilians next week if they are to finish in the top two. Alternatively, any kind of victory and a surprise win for Deportivo against leaders Velez Sarsfield could also be enough.
Finding themselves in an even tougher position in Group 1 are Independiente Medellin, who stayed in the hunt by downing Cerro Porteno 1-0 - Luis Arias scoring the only goal of the night. Third on six points, the Colombians still have a mathematical chance of going through, but need to win at leaders Corinthians in their final game and hope for other results to go their way.
Player of the week
Ezequiel Miralles (Colo Colo)
The scorer of a valuable brace, the 26-year-old Argentinian striker was the star of his side’s 3-2 win in Venezuela. Despite also missing a penalty, Miralles joined Esteban Paredes as El Cacique’s top scorer in this season’s competition with three goals.
3 - The number of penalties that were saved in the week’s six games. The goalkeeping heroes were Esteban Dreer (Deportivo Italia), Jose Fernandez (Deportivo Cuenca) and Ezequiel Medran (Cerro Porteno), who respectively denied Gustavo Varela (Nacional), Ezequiel Miralles (Colo Colo) and Luis Arias (Independiente Medellin).
What they said
“That was a fantastic performance from us. We knew it was going to be tough and the rain made it even harder, but even then we almost won. It’s a great point because it keeps us top,” Nacional goalkeeper Rodrigo Munoz.