Universidad de Chile confirmed their place in the quarter-finals of the Copa Sudamericana with a single goal victory at home to Flamengo through long range rocket from Marcelo Diaz; triumphing 5-0 on aggregate.
The seriousness at which each team were taking the game was shown in the two line-ups. La U made only the one change from the emphatic first-leg win in Brazil, promising forward Felipe Gallegos replacing Francisco Castro. Vanderlei Luxemburgo meanwhile made wholesale changes, nine of the team that started the first leg were absent from the starting line-up. Ronaldinho was amongst those left behind in Brazil, Luxemburgo only bringing a squad of 15.
The vociferous home crowd at Santiago’s National Stadium were rewarded after 20 minutes as Diaz ran onto a loose ball outside the box, unleashing a left-footed effort with optimum slice into the top corner. Tie over.
The game saw little incident or quality in comparison to the first-leg. A number of players attempted to replicate Díaz’s strike with ambitious efforts while Jhonny Herrera, minding goal for Los Azules, excelled in the second-half when brought into action; most finishes lacking sufficient quality.
Next up for La U in the Copa Sudamericana is a trip to Argentina to face Arsenal de Sarandí; the team currently 11th in the Argentine Primera División.
However, more importantly for Universidad de Chile is the Superclásico on Sunday (20.00 GMT) away to arch-rivals Colo-Colo.
The 3,000 tickets available for Los Azules fans were snapped up within an hour of going on sale, highlighting the excitement and confidence that the fans have in La U breaking their 10 year hoodoo at Colo-Colo’s Estadio Monumental. A feeling replicated by the players who grow in confidence after each game they remain unbeaten – now stretched to an astonishing 23 games, defeat last coming in July to Magallanes in the Copa Chile.
Captain José Rojas exuded the feelings of an experience statesman saying, “This leads to hope. I’ve always said that we must keep our feet on the ground. We are a young talented team. Let’s go with the conviction that we can win the game. What we want most is to beat Colo Colo.”
Whereas goalkeeper Jhonny Herrera preferred not to sugar-coat the build up by declaring that he wants to “run over” Colo-Colo. Herrera has history in this particular game, having been sent-off along with Colo-Colo’s then playmaker, Jorge Valdivia.
Los Albos come into the game second in the Clausura eight points behind La U but ensured of a play-off place unless the unimaginable happens in the last four games. Los Albos are missing influential midfielder Rodrgio Millar. Millar had served a suspension against Santiago Morning last Sunday but bruised a leg in training and won’t make Sunday’s clash. Esteban Paredes is likely to be joined by Mauro Olivi in attack.
Colo-Colo coach Ivo Basay is yet to taste victory against La U in the five matches he has managed against them; drawing only one of five encounters.
Universidad de Chile’s last win at the Monumental was back in September of 2001, prevailing as 3-2 winners.
The pick of round 14’s other games sees Ñublense and Santiago Morning entertain Palestino and Cobresal respectively, looking to close the gap at the bottom of the table, while Ñublense and Cobresal still have hopes of reaching the Clausura play-offs – three points separating Ñublense in 9th and Unión Española in 6th. Universidad Católica still hang on to their play-off place and welcome Universidad de Concepción who, after a terrible run of results, have been dragged into the relegation mire. Deportes La Serena and Unión Española face off against one another. La Serena will all but confirm their place in the end of season play-offs while La Furia Roja can strengthen their position, keeping the chasing pack at arms length.
Round 14 in full (Time GMT):
Unión San Felipe v Cobreloa (00.00)
Deportes Iquique v O’Higgins (20.00)
Santiago Wanderers v Audax Italiano (20.00)
Santiago Morning v Cobresal (21.00)
Huachipato v Unión La Calera (22.15)
La Serena v Unión Española (00.30)
Ñublense v Palestino (00.30)
Colo-Colo v Universidad de Chile (20.00)
Universidad Católica v Universidad de Concepción (22.30)