Friday, 18 February 2011

Copa Libertadores Group Stage - matchday 1

After Argentinos Juniors and Fluminense kicked us off a week ago, the rest of the Copa Libertadores group stage kicked off this week. There's lots to get through so let's get straight to it.

Group 1

San Luis 1-2 Libertad
Once Caldas 0-3 Universidad San Martín

Two away wins in Group 1 where Peru's Universidad San Martín struck it big in Colombia. They were in front late in the first half as they pulled Once Caldas apart down the left and Heber Arriola was on hand to tap in. German Alemmano provided that one and scored the second himself, latching onto a long through ball, beating the offside trap - such as it was - and beating the keeper one-on-one. Arriola's second sealed it, a 35-yarder that Nayim would have been proud of. Paraguayans Libertad are on a hot streak right now and engineered their sixth straight win in all competitions with a win in Mexico and they were ahead through a deft flicked header from Nicolas Pavlovich inside twenty minutes. Another header squared it up five out from half-time as Juan Manuel Cavallo thundered one in at the back post from a corner, but Sergio Aquino's second half penalty restored the lead for Los Repelleros and a San Luis comeback was made much harder when Ignacio Torres was sent off late on.

Group 2

Léon de Huánuco 1-2 Junior
Grêmio 3-0 Oriente Petrolero

Grêmio take early charge of group 2 after thumping Bolivian league leaders at the Monumental. One of the more ludicrous handballs you could wish to see gave Douglas the chance to open the scoring from the penalty spot which he wasn't about to turn down. That came a few minutes from half time and a few minutes after it, Gilson made it 2-0 after a goalkeeping howler. Douglas added a third as Oriente were overwhelmed. A 20-yard thunderbolt from John Viafara - alumnus of Portsmouth and Southampton - gave Junior the lead in Huánuco midway through the first half. Some edge-of-the-box trickery gave Carlos Bacca the space to make it two and they held on for the win despite losing Jose Amaya to a second yellow card and a late goal back for the home side, a tremendous volley from Carlos Elias.

Group 3

América 2-0 Nacional

With Flu and Argentinos having already played, there's just one game to catch up on here, with Mexicans América comfortably beating Uruguay's Nacional. The writing was on the wall early when a deep cross from the right found it's way across the penalty area to where Vicente Sanchez was lurking to turn it in. Early in the second half, Nacional were caught out again as Vicente Vuoso hit one on the turn from 18 yards.

Group 4

Vélez Sarsfield 3-0 Caracas
Unión Española 2-2 Universidad Catolica

The all-Chilean tie finished level, but only thanks to a stoppage time penalty from Braulio Leal to rescue a point for Unión. After a goalless first half, Unión hit the front a few minutes into the second as Leonardo Monje hooked one in at the back post. Cue the comeback by La Catolica as Lucas Pratto headed them level and Fernando Meneses thrashed in a second in the space of five minutes, but it wasn't to be. Caracas didn't help themselves in Buenos Aires by having Louis Peña sent off early on. Vélez made the numbers count and went ahead through Maxi Morales's 25-yarder in the last minute of the first half. After the break, it was one-way traffic with David Ramirez firing in a screamer from wide out on the right and a late penalty from Juan Manuel Martinez adding to the scoreline.

Group 5

Deportivo Táchira 0-0 Santos
Cerro Porteño 5-2 Colo Colo

No goals in San Cristóbal where Santos were held by a combination of the frame of the goal - Neymar struck the post in the first half - Táchira keeper Manuel Sanhouse in fine form and an early offside flag the one time Santos got the ball in the net. Meanwhile in Asunción, Cerro Porteño went goal crazy at home to Colo Colo. Roberto Nanni and Juan Iturbe both got doubles and it was Nanni with the first as goalkeeper and defender got in a horrible tangle and another failure to clear allowed Julio dos Santos to double the lead. The game wasn't ten minutes old yet. Cristobal Jorquera pulled one back with a cracking strike on the quarter hour, but Cerro reasserted themselves after the break. Iturbe started and finished the move to restore the two goal advantage - probably goal of the round - and Nanni got his second from the penalty spot after Fredy Bareiro was dragged down by the keeper. Esteban Paredes got a consolation for Colo, but the last word went to Cerro and Iturbe who spun away from his marker and finished with the outside of the left boot.

Group 6

Emelec 1-1 Internacional
Jaguares 2-0 Jorge Wilstermann

Inter were denied all three points by a late, late Fernando Gimenez header after Mario Bolatti had earlier nodded the Brazilians in front. Gimemez got across his marker at a free-kick to snatch a draw. That allowed Jaguares to take control of the group with a home win over Bolivian side Jorge Wilstermann. Tidy passing by the Mexicans allowed Antonio Salazar in for the opener and Ricardo Esqueda sealed it, reacting quickest to a parried shot as the Wilster defence was opened up all too easily.

Group 7

Deportes Tolima 1-0 Guaraní
Cruzeiro 5-0 Estudiantes

The shock of the round came in Belo Horizonte where reigning Argentine champions and 2009 Libertadores winners Estudiantes copped a right rare gubbing from Cruzeiro, all played out live on Premier Sports. Wallyson and Walter Montillo got two each as Los Pincharattas were humbled. There was 55 seconds on the clock when Wallyson's shot took an awful deflection to loop over Agustin Orión and in for the opener and Cruzeiro kicked on to lead 3-0 by half time. Roger waltzed through the shambolic defence to double the lead and Montillo's first came as Cruzeiro engineered a four-on-one situation. Estudiantes thought they'd cleared their lines on the hour, but Montillo met the clearance on the run to volley in the fourth and Wallyson added a fifth late on, though it's not clear how much he knew about it. By contrast, the game in Ibagué was very low key. Not that that will bother the home side who won it with a late one from Danny Santoya, a 20-yarder as Guaraní (of Paraguay, not Brazil) failed to clear.

Group 8

Godoy Cruz 2-1 LDU Quito

Just one game to report on in the final group as well with Independiente and Peñarol due to meet next Thursday. 2008 winners LDU were beaten in Mendoza by Godoy Cruz and ended with ten men. Carlos Sanchez swooped on a loose clearance to fire Godoy ahead on the quarter hour, but LDU got back square shortly after half time through a nicely worked move that ended with Neicer Reasco heading in at the back post. They were level for just seven minutes before Nicolas Sanchez headed Godoy back ahead. LDU finished a man down after Fernando Hidalgo was sent off late on.

There's another set of fixtures next Thursday, the pick of which is Estudiantes's home clash with Deportes Tolima. Can the Apertura champions from Argentina recover from that humping in Brazil? You can find out with Premier Sports' live coverage.

Cruzeiro v Guaraní
Universidad San Martín v San Luis
Emelec v Jorge Wilstermann
Once Caldas v Libertad
Léon de Huánuco v Oriente Petrolero
Internacional v Jaguares
Estudiantes v Deportes Tolima LIVE on Premier Sports TV, 0045GMT, Thursday Feb 24
Fluminense v Nacional
Independiente v Peñarol
Argentinos Juniors v América
Junior v Grêmio

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