The line-up for group phase of the 51st Copa Libertadores is almost complete, with Cruzeiro, Libertad, Racing Montevideo and Juan Aurich all advancing from the preliminary round this week, albeit in varying fashions. FIFA.com rounds up the latest events in Latin America’s leading club competition.
Game of the week
Libertad 3-1 Deportivo Tachira
Goals: Rodolfo Gamarra 40, Pablo Velazquez 67, 81 (Libertad); Pedro Boada 29 (Deportivo Tachira)
It proved to be a night to remember at the Estadio Defensores del Chaco. Trailing 1-0 from the first leg, the hosts looked to be heading out of the competition when Boada struck for the Venezuelans in the first half. Gamarra’s goal five minutes before the break gave El Gumarelo renewed hope, however, and Velazquez completed a stunning comeback with two goals in 14 minutes. Javier Torrente’s side will now face Lanus of Argentina, Universitario of Peru and Bolivia’s Blooming in Group 4.
Surprise of the week
Estudiantes Tecos 1-2 Juan Aurich
Goals: Fredy Bareiro 76 (Estudiantes Tecos); Luis Tejada 43, Ricardo Ciciliano 74 (Juan Aurich)
The men from Chiclayo defied the torrential rain to achieve what no other Peruvian side has managed in the history of the competition: a victory on Mexican soil. Solid at the back, Luis Suarez made the most of the chances that came their way. Tejada took his tournament tally to three with the opener before Ciciliano put the visitors completely out of sight with a second. The Peruvians now advance to Group 3, where they join holders Estudiantes, fellow countrymen Alianza Lima and Bolivar of Bolivia.
Cruzeiro had an even easier time of things at home to Bolivia’s Real Potosi, romping to a 7-0 win. After being held 1-1 in the first leg, the 2009 runners-up took control of the tie from the off, sweeping past Sergio Apaza’s men with seven goals from seven different players, namely Marquinhos Parana, Thiago Ribeiro, Kleber, Jonathan, Bernardo, Eliandro and Joffre Guerron. A Raposa’s reward was a place in Group 7 alongside Velez Sarsfield, Colo-Colo and Deportivo Italia.
In the week’s final game, Racing Montevideo of Uruguay secured their first-ever win in an international competition against Atletico Junior. Forward Liber Quinonez, who played a vital part in last Thursday’s valuable 2-2 draw in Colombia, was the hero of a memorable night, scoring both goals (one of them from the spot) before hobbling off with an injury. Juan Verzeri’s unfancied side now take their place in Group 1, where they will do battle with Cerro Porteno, Corinthians and Independiente Medellin.
Player of the week
Pablo Velazquez (Libertad)
The tall 22-year-old striker showed why he is on the shopping list of many South American clubs with a decisive double against Tachira, the second a fierce low drive from outside the box. “That was for everyone who claimed I didn’t want to come back to this club,” he said of the exuberant celebration that followed his winner.
7 – The number of goals Cruzeiro scored this week in their biggest-ever Copa Libertadores win, relegating their 7-1 defeat of Peru’s Alianza Lima in 1976 to second place.
What they said
“We didn’t do in the first leg what we did today. We thought we were going to go through easily and that’s why we're out. The rain didn’t help much either but that’s no excuse. We were too confident and we have to learn how to play in competitions like this,” Estudiantes Tecos coach Miguel Herrera explains his side’s surprise elimination.
This week’s results
Libertad (PAR) 3-1 Deportivo Tachira (VEN)
Cruzeiro (BRA) 7-0 Real Potosi (BOL)
Estudiantes Tecos (MEX) 1-2 Juan Aurich (PER)
Racing Montevideo (URU) 2-0 Atletico Junior (COL)