Week 2 Round-up: La U are off and running but it is Union Espanola who lead the way . . .

Hat-trick hero Jaime (image ANFP.cl)

Goals were more forthcoming in week 2 as Clausura finalists Universidad de Chile and Cobreloa kicked off their Apertura seasons with wins. But both are left looking upwards at Unión Española who continue their thrilling start to the season. A fine individual performance from Mauro Díaz was part of a fabulous team performance as they pummelled Cobresal.

La U struggled to break down La Serena on Saturday evening until the introduction of new boy Raúl Ruidíaz at half-time. Colo Colo also collected their first win of the season while Universidad Católica endure their poor away form which blighted their Clausura campaign.

Santiago Wanderers, Palestino, Audax Italiano and Antofagasta all got of the mark.

Universidad de Concepción 1-1 Audax Italiano

Audax Italiano are still looking for their first win of the season having improve on their opening day performance but still clearly missing the presence of front man Facundo Pereyra who moved on in the transfer window.

The first half was a watchable contest played at a quick tempo; both teams looking to get the ball down and move it quickly from front to back in an attempt to get their creative players on the ball. This saw Concepción’s Aníbal Carvallo and José Manuel Contreras and Italiano’s Bryan Carrasco involved frequently.

The home side duo combined with strikers Gabriel Vargas and Claudio Guerra to provide a constant threat, especially in behind Los Tanos’ three man backline. Although it was Carrasco who created the best chance of the half, his driving run and cross found Cristian Canuhé entering the box at the far side but his powerful volley was beaten away by Cristian Brítez.

The second-half started as the first finished. But it wouldn’t last. The flow and rhythm would slowly drain out of the game after each blow of the referee’s whistle. But there were goals. Ten minutes in and Los Tanos were handed the chance to take the lead from the penalty spot after Juan González clumsily brought down Felipe Mora who had latched onto Daniel González’s headed flick. González stayed on the pitch even though he looked to have denied a goal-scoring opportunity. Canuhé scored by calmly stroking the penalty down the middle.

The teams traded chances as Carlos Ross’ shot was beaten away by Brítez while Claudio Sandoval clipped a free-kick off the bar.

The home side however would get a share of the points their play merited. Substitute Diego Díaz advanced from his right-back position to cross for Carvallo who scooped a diving header over Alejandro Sánchez and off the bar. Luckily the ball fell nicely at the feet of Claudio Cuerra who knocked the ball over the line from inside the six yard box.

Palestino 2-2 Huachipato

Huachipato started the game on the front foot forcing Palestino back. Manuel Villalobos was unfortunate to see a cute free-kick come back off the inside of the post before they went ahead in the 10th minute. Bryan Cortes chipped a ball over the top of the Palestino defence for Villalobos. The number 10 stayed on side and squared a pass to Braian Rodríguez taking Palestino ‘keeper Felipe Nuñez out the equation for a simple tap-in.

The goal forced Palestino to wake from their slumber, Robert Flores getting more involved. But it was Jason Silva who inadvertently set up Nicolas Canales; his shot falling to Canales who steadied himself before decisively making it 1-1. But they wouldn’t be level for long. A free-kick deep into the Palestino box was knocked back by Rodríguez for Claudio Muñoz to slam home a second.

Palestino fought back in a lacklustre second half to register their first point of the season thanks to a fine piece of play in the corner from Flores; picking it up from a throw-in he side-stepped a challenge, got to the by-line and cut back a pass for substitute Diego Chaves to sweep home.

Santiago Wanderers 2-1 Universidad Católica

Universidad Católica boss Mario Lepe claimed afterwards his side could easily have won 5-2 or 5-3 yet credit has to go to the young Santiago Wanderers side who closed down Francisco Silva and Ormeño, cutting off the oxygen which makes this Cató side breathe before surviving a late attack as UC looked to rescue a result from the game.

Wanderers’ exerted pressure on the ball paid of five minutes from half-time when Sebastián Rusculleda’s whipped corner was met by Eric Godoy as he fell to the turf. They doubled the lead half way through the second period. Collecting the ball just inside the Católica half Sebastián Ubilla ran at the retreating UC defence and as no other option opened up he had no choice but to cut on to his left and curl a shot into the far top corner. A wonderful solo effort.

The game took a bizarre turn as UC pushed to get back into the game. After the subdued Kevin Harbottle had sent a long range strike just wide Michael Rios got UC to within a goal scoring direct from a corner with a vicious right-footed in-swinger. And in even more bizarre circumstances UC were agonizingly close to drawing level when Harbottle sent his corner off the inside of the far post.

Despite laying siege the Wanderers goal they could find a second.

Deportes La Serena 1-3 Universidad de Chile

Despite a friendly defeat to Colo Colo in a game held up by flares thrown onto the pitch by La U fans Universidad de Chile had not lost the winning feeling over the winter break even with the departure of star man Eduardo Vargas and Gustavo Canales – who announced he’d be leaving for China on the eve of the game.

La U began the first half slowly strolling to find the rhythm, pace and fluidity in the final third that was the embodiment f their attacking play in 2011. Unsurprising considering the forward line of 3 included two debutants; Pedro Morales and Junior Fernándes. However it was a third debutant who opened the scoring. Substitute Raúl Ruidíaz, despite standing at 5ft5’ rose highest to divert Junior Fernándes’ cross from the right back across goal and into the bottom corner, prompting wild scenes amongst the large travelling support.

La Serena responded with a well worked goal, finished on the volley by Jose Jérez but behind just as quick as they had levelled; Ruidíaz returning the favour by sending Fernándes through on goal to round the goalkeeper and score.

The win was capped by of by a Marcelo Díaz penalty late on.

Unión Española 6-1 Cobresal

There appears to be no stopping Unión Española as their terrific start to the season continues. On the back of qualifying for the Copa Libertadores group stageLa Furia Roja came from behind to emphatically dispose of a shell-shocked Cobresal.

It seemed that Española were suffering a Continental hangover when the away side took the lead after 13 minutes; catching Los Rojos on the break. A cross field pass located a suspiciously offside Gonzalo de Porras and keeping the ball in the pitch on the far touchline the Argentine paused, anticipating the supporting run – which came – from Luis Jiménez on the outside. The left-back sent in a cross which was converted expertly by Miguel Angel Cueller, towering over the Española centre backs.

Before the home side could take control of the game Eduardo Lobos had to be at his best, stretching to tip over a dipping volley from Eduardo Farías.

Incidentally it was a Cobresal player who got Española on their way. Jean Paul Pineda’s trickery won a free-kick on the left and Mauro Díaz sent in a low set-piece, the trajectory uncomfortable for Hector Berrios who shinned it into his own net. It would be the start of an energetic, industrious, expansive and complete performance with Díaz epitomising each one of those characteristics.

20-year-old Fabián Saavedra would score either side of half-time to put the home side in a commanding position. And each goal was of high quality as another Chilean youngster threatens to breakthrough. The first came after a sweeping move involving Emmanuel Herrera who had dropped deep from his forward role, finding space to turn and send a pass over the top of the defence he had dragged up. Saavedra read the pass before throwing a defender, moving the ball onto his left foot and unleashing an unstoppable shot across the goalkeeper into the far corner.

For the second Saavedra picked up on a poor clearance at the edge of the box and arrowed the ball into the bottom corner after biding his time waiting for an opening to present itself.

Cobresal weren’t out of it as they threatened twice in quick succession; De Porras clipping the bar with a cheeky dink with the outside of his right foot before Cuellar forced Lobos into a wonderful double save after was caught under a cross.

They were out of it when Sebastián Jaime was introduced in the 55th minute. 15 minutes later he had scored and a further eight minutes on he had completed a hat-trick. A hat-trick that could rival Dirk Kuyt’s against Manchester United last season in the simplicity department. The first was from a header eight yards out after fine wing play from Saavedra. The second was knocked in on the rebound which owed much to Rodolfo Madrid’s piercing run and Díaz bamboozling of a defender before he saw his shot blocked. And his hat-trick goal was again down to Díaz, his sheer persistence and insightful vision helping leave the ball on a plate for Jaime who had his knife and fork at the ready.

Round-up

In the weekends other games Colo Colo wrapped up a fine week having been booed off the pitch last Sunday. In midweek they beat arch-rivals Universidad de Chile 2-1 in a friendly before picking up their first three points of the season thanks to a Rodrigo Millar goal against Eduardo Berizzo’s O’Higgins. Antofagasta and Deportes Iquique swapped goals in Sunday’s early kick-off. Rodrigo Brito put Iquique ahead but Primera División newcomers Antofagasta recorded their first point of the Apertura through Diego Ruiz eight minutes from time. Nelson Acosta’s Cobreloa kicked-off their season in typically solid fashion; Cristian Canio’s debut goal enough to give the side from Calama all three points against Unión La Calera. In the final game of the weekend Unión San Felipe and Everton could not be separated with the defences on top.

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