A slip-up by Universidad de Chile on Tuesday was their first in 10 games of the Clausura. Yet it has given their fierce rivals Colo Colo the belief that they can overtake La U at the summit of the Clausura standings, leading to a more favourable draw in the play-offs.
After Thursday night’s comprhensive victory in the stand-out match of Weekday 10 against third placed Audax Italiano, Colo Colo are now six points behind the La U with seven games to go.
It is felt with Universidad de Chile still in the Copa Sudamerican where they face Brazilian side Flamengo there are more slip-ups to come.
Goals from Carlos Muñoz, Rodrigo Millar and Marco Medel eased Colo Colo to victory in what was a fast-paced match-up between two of Chile’s best sides – each finished with ten men. Audax Italiano had their chances but ultimately could not contend with the attacking quality possessed by the home side.
The encounter in Colo Colo’s atmospheric Estadio Monumental took no time at all to burst into life, the away side making the better start. Audax’s attacking trident – Cristian Canhué, Facundo Pereyra and Felipe Mora – in their 3-4-1-2 formation, linking up to good effect to create a chance for Pereyra. However Los Italicos number 14 could not add to his tally of six goals for the Clausura firing over from a promising position.
Seven minutes after that early chance Colo Colo opened the scoring as Carlos Muñoz rounded of a sweeping move for his 4th goal of the Clausura. Los Albos’s (The snow whites) danger man Esteban Paredes had pulled Audax defender Sebastian Silva out of defence onto the left-touchline, spinning away from Silva Paredes spotted the run of Lucas Wílchez and acutely slid his pass in between two Audax defenders; without breaking stride Wílchez gave Muñoz the simplest of finishes with his perfect centre.
Italiano ought to have been level moments later in the 13th minute; Pereyra again wasteful in front of goal. Matías Campos Toro’s throw from the left came back to him off a Colo Colo block giving him the opportunity to stab the ball into the box where Pereyra was standing all alone on the penalty spot, no man marking, zonal marking or magic marking. Whether it was the surprise of being unattended Pereyra failed to get his touch out of his feet allowing for Colo Colo’s goalkeeper Juan Castillo to narrow the angle and block the effort.
The game gave way to a period of inactivity in either side’s box, yet the pace of the game was swift, both teams confidently passing the ball, making use of the space on the pitch. Colo Colo in particular were positive in possession; constant movement and interchanging as Audax Italiano struggled to keep with the fluidity of the home side’s front line, their positions not restricted. With Luis Pavez supporting the defence Rodrigo Millar was able to push on to support Paredes, Muñoz, Wilchez and José Fuenzalida.
It was Muñoz who could have doubled Colo Colo’s lead four minutes from the half-time interval. Assertive pressing in midfield saw Muñoz steal the ball from Christian Martínez for an unobstructed run into the box where he shuffled easily past Silva but a meek effort as the ball bobbled was saved easily by the feet of the vertical Alejandro Sánchez.
As was the case at the start of the match, Audax Italiano began the second half on the front foot. The away side enjoyed a lot of possession in the final third but could not obtain the required sequence to unlock the safe that was Colo Colo’s defence – often stumbling at the last number. The defending may have been scrappy but it was effective.
When Los Itálicos did find a way through the defence the last security measure, Castillo, was in the way; saving from Toro who received a cut back from the by-line.
And as in the first half a missed opportunity for Audax at one end was punished by Colo Colo at the other. The fleet-footed Paredes was the architect again. Dropping off the defence as he had done so often in the game to collect possession, the Chilean international embarked on a Messi-eque run; left foot, close control, bamboozling defenders who were scared to tackle in fear of conceding a penalty and just as it looked like Lucas Dominguez had stopped his run, a shuffle, shake and shift to the right opened the necessary space to dink a ball to the back post for Millar to head back across goal and into the top corner even with the presence of two defenders covering on the line.
If the game hadn’t burst into life with Audax Italiano’s miss and Millar’s goal then Wílchez and Audax’s Francisco Sánchez made sure it had done by the 68th minute when both were stupidly given straight red cards. As Wílchez brought Sanchez to the ground, Sánchez felt the need to swing an elbow into the face of Wílchez, provoking a petulant then angry response from the Argentine. Firstly slapping, no ‘flicking’ Sanchez’s forehead before swatting away the 4th official’s hand. And yet it wasn’t finished for Wílchez who went back to Sánchez to make sure he knew exactly what he thought of the Audax midfielder.
Unlike the period of positive football in the first half the match gave way mediocrity. That was until ten minutes from time however.
An Audax free-kick in dangerous territory in the Colo Colo half nearly turned into a third goal for the home side. A rapid counter-attack saw Paredes put on the after burners and head for the Italiano goal, wrong footing Christian Jelves on the edge of the Audax box, Paredes cut on to his favoured left foot but saw his effort come back of the base of the post. If one player deserved a goal it was Paredes for his performance, dropping into every position imaginable. A day like today he was unplayable.
And he was again given the chance to score his 9th of the Clausura with perhaps the easiest chance of the game. A cross from the right found substitute Roberto Gutiérrez in the box and just managing to get a toe to the ball he poked it into the path of Paredes, lonesome in front of goal but his attempted clever finish hit the other post!
By now it had become infectious. A minutes later an unfocused Colo Colo backline handed Toro the chance to set up an exciting finale but his volleyed effort sliced away from Castillo but off the outside of the near post.
The frantic finish wasn’t quite over as Colo Colo got their third goal in stoppage time. But it wasn’t Paredes. It was the man who replaced him, Marco Medel. As a top heavy Audax chased and unrecoverable point the ball was quickly worked along the edge of the away side’s box, Gutiérrez ‘turning the ball round the corner’ to Medel in space on the left edge of the area. Shaping to shoot with his left he fooled two defenders and with his right fired into the roof of the net, avoiding the despairing dive of goalkeeper Sánchez and the two defenders on the line. It was Medel’s first goal for the club since his loan move from Audax Italiano, explaining the muted celebration.
Next up for the sides sitting second and third in the Primera division is a trip to Deportes La Serena on Saturday for Colo Colo and a home match for Audax Italiano against Huachipato as both look to consolidate their positions in the play-offs.
Man of the match: Esteban Paredes
Colo Colo (3): Juan Castillo, Alvaro Ormeno, Luis Mena, Christian Vilches, Manuel Bravo, José Pedro Fuenzalida, Rodrigo Millar, Luis Pavez, Lucas Wilchez, Esteban Paredes (Marco Medel, 86 ‘) and Carlos Muñoz (Roberto Gutierrez, 79 ‘). Manager: Ivo Basay.
Audax Italiano (0): Alejandro Sánchez, Sebastián Silva, Christian Jelves, Lucas Domínguez, Francisco Sánchez, Fabián Benítez (Cristian Canio, 75 ‘) (Daniel Gonzalez, 88’), Christian Martinez (Enzo Cabrera, 83 ‘), Matias Campos Toro, Christian Canuhé, Facundo Pereyra, Felipe Mora. Manager: Omar Labruna.
Scorers: 1-0 Carlos Muñoz (10 ‘), 2-0 Rodrigo Millar (64’), 3-0 Marco Medel (90 ‘). Expelled: Lucas Wilchez (Colo Colo, 69 ‘), Francisco Sanchez (A. Italiano , 69 ‘)