The shape of the Clausura continues to alter – with the exception of the top spot which Universidad de Chile have all but sewn up – after another tumultuous and enthralling weekend in the Chilean Primera Division.
There were 27 goals scored in the nine games which kicked off on Thursday (01:00 GMT) due to La U’s impending involvement in the Copa Sudamericana. They travel to Brazil to face Ronaldinho’s Flamengo in good spirits having secured their place in the play-offs defeating Union La Calera late on to end their run of draws and increase their lead at the top to 10 points. La Calera, like Unión Española who were beaten 2-1 by Huachipato, fell out the play-offs to be replaced by Universidad Católica (more about them soon) and Ñublense while Deportes La Serena, Audax Italiano and Cobreloa all strengthened their positions in the play-offs with wins. Palestino moved off the bottom of the Clausura table with a 3-1 win victory in Iquique and Santiago Morning hit bottom of the general table with a 1-1 draw at home to Unión San Felipe.
But the game, and result, of the weekend was in Sunday’s clásico albo-cruzado between Universidad Católica and Colo-Colo; UC creating history in a game that will be remembered by Los Cruzados fans for some time.
Four league defeats on the spin saw Católica fall out of contention at the top of the Clausura and plummet out of the end of season play-offs. Manager Mario Lepe had started to come under pressure, only intensified by the 2-0 home reverse to Argentines Vélez Sársfield in the Copa Sudamericana. But salivation arrived in the Copa Chile, UC turning the corner with two wins over Universidad de Concepcion. And the 4-0 trouncing of Colo-Colo, the first time they have ever defeated their Santiago rivals by a four goal margin, empathically signals the end of the rot; the players dedicating the victory to Lepe.
Milovan Mirosevic became Cato’s leading scorer in the fixture after netting two first half goals. The first a brave diving header rounding off a fine passing move and the second after a quick counter-attack. The game – played in front of a partisan home crowd with Colo-Colo fans banned from travelling to the Estadio San Carlos – was over by half-time; Felipe Gutiérrez, punishing Andrés Scotti’s slack pass from defence, and Roberto Cereceda adding goals three and four.
Colo-Colo talisman Esteban Paredes opted against the clichéd look for positives, saying, “We played a horrible game. We are totally embarrassed. We touched bottom.”
Universidad Católica are now on the cusp of qualification to the Copa Libertadores through their overall points tally from the two championships.
Ñublense had a double reason to celebrate their 2-1 win at home to Univerisdad de Concepción. The win takes them into the last play-off spot and also lifts them off the bottom of the General table narrowing the gap to their relegation rivals around them; now only six points separates 11th and 18th. Pablo González set the home side on their way, converting from the penalty spot. Both teams saw efforts hit the bar in what was an open game. It was Concepción’s openness which presented the Diablos Rojos with their second of the game. A quick break down the left allowed Alejandro Váasquez cross for Jaime Grondona to double the lead on half-time. Concepción halved the arrears late on through a Renato Ramos header. The result leaves the away side perilously close to the two automatic relegation spots, only a point above their opponents who have now won four of their last five.
Ñublense’s place at the bottom of the General table was taken by Santiago Morning who could only manage a 1-1 draw at home Unión San Felipe. Gastón Lezcano had Morning in front inside a minute but they could not build on the lead and San Felipe drew level through a Tomás Lanzini penalty.
San Felipe fall to the bottom of the Clausura due to Palestino’s first win in six games away at Deportes Iquique. Nicolás Canales hit a first half double for the Tricolor. Álvaro Ramos halved the deficit with 12 minutes remaining but Palestino secured the win through Javier Velázquez. Iquique continue to look over their shoulder as six games without a win means they are only three points off Ñublense in the general table.
Universidad de Chile warmed up for their clash with Brazilian giants by leaving it late to snatch all 3 points at home to Unión La Calera. Missing the influential Eduardo Vargas they took the lead with a helping hand from La Calera’s Braian Rodríguez, diverting Felipe Gallegos’ free-kick into his own net. The Rojos hit back either side of the half-time break however; Francisco Bahamondes heading level and Ariel Cólzera spectacularly putting the Rojos in front moments after the restart. A wonderful left-footed strike on the turn from 25 yards out catching Jhonny Herrera cold.
Paulo Magahales equalised before the hour mark setting up an exciting last half hour which La U edged in the last minute as they pushed numbers forward looking to make the extra man count having seen Calera reduced to 10 men. Francisco Castro was the beneficiary of time and space in the away side’s box to stab a winner.
Los Azules will know they need to tighten up at the back if they are to come back to Santiago with a positive result Thursday (kick-off 00:50 GMT).
Deportes La Serena put the disappointment of losing to Primera B side Magallanes in the Copa Chile semi-final in the rear-view mirror to extend their unbeaten league form to eight with a 2-0 win at Santiago Wanderers. Dwight Pezarossi got Serena off to the perfect start slicing through the Wanderers defence. Despite playing over an hour with 10 men after Sergio Vargas was red carded Serena not only held on but increased their lead five minutes from time through Mauricio Salazar. The result consolidates the Granates position in the play-offs while Wanderers remain in a relegation fight.
Cobreloa recorded a comprehensive win in the clásico del cobre away to Cobresal. Both teams retain their place in the play-off spots but Cobreloa put distance between themselves and those on the outskirts of the top eight places. Diego Barrios and Hugo Lasardi both notched their sixth of the season as the Mineros cruised to their third consecutive win within 30 minutes. Javier Elizondo added a third late on.
Unión Española dropped out of the play-off places, surrendering a half-time lead away to Huachipato. Leonardo Monje headed the opener in a poor first half only for the home side to score a quick-fire second half double, keeping the points in Talcahuano. The ever-lively César Cortés levelling and Jesús Vera bundling home the winner.
Audax Italiano concluded the weekend’s action by moving into second place on goal difference with a solid 1-0 win away to O’Higgins despite coming under pressure in the second half. Fabián Benítez acrobatically firing the only goal of the game past Luis Marín after the O’Higgins defence made a hash of clearing a corner.
Highlights of a selection of matches can be found at: http://resumencdf.com/
CAMPEONATO CLAUSURA PRIMERA DIVISIÓN 2011
|10.||U. La Calera||15||12||4||3||5||14||14||0|
|18.||U. San Felipe||11||12||2||5||5||12||22||-10|