Unión Española put back-to-back league defeats behind them to defy pre-match expectations and win at altitude in La Paz against Bolívar.
Trailing 1-0 inside the opening minute, La Furia Roja looked to be heading for a third straight defeat, but after surviving a number of first half scares the Chileans responded with three second half goals to record their second win of the Copa Libertadores; putting them top of group 3.
Española barely had time to settle when the Bolivians ran through their midfield to set up a cross from the left. The cross was not defended by José Luis Sierra’s side and Edhemir Rodríguez nipped in-front of his marker and saw his flicked shot come back of the post but he was the quickest to react to the rebound and made sure from a few centimetres out.
The goal began a dominant first half for the hosts as they saw a number of efforts come close while Los Rojos chased shadows. William Ferreira, Abdon Reyes and Damián Lizio all went close and Los Celestes also saw a goal chalked off by the linesman’s flag. However it was Ferreira’s second miss that Bolívar will be looking back on with regrets. After being played through 1v1 with Eduardo Lobos he rounded the goalkeeper but contrived to miss. However it was evened up when Sebastián Jaime tried to out-do him for miss of the season when he rounded Marco Argüello at the other end but also missed an open goal.
If the first half was Bolívar’s there was no debating over who the second belonged to. Playing like they did in the opening games of the season Española shone as they drew level in spectacular fashion just after the hour mark. A poor back-pass forced Argüello to advance from area to sweep up any danger. Yet his sliding clearance fell to the feet of Mauro Díaz who, with only a small window of opportunity before Argüello retreated to a better position, lofted a shot over the ‘keeper from fully 35 yards. A wonderful executed, opportunist strike.
Four minutes later Fernando Cordero then exploited the gaping holes in the home defence by sliding through a pass for Emmanuel Herrera to chase and poke past Argüello, winning the race to the ball before the eager ‘keeper.
The result was confirmed four minutes from time with another wonderful goal. Jean Paul Pineda, picking the ball up in space in his favoured left hand channel, ran at the retreating Bolivian defence before cutting in and unleashing a howitzer of a shot into the near top hand corner.
A simply stunning result for Española which sets up the upcoming Group 3 double header with Universidad Católica, who they coincidentally meet on Sunday evening.
Before that however Católica entertain Colombian side Junior in the early hours of Friday morning. And in Group 8 Universidad de Chile host Argentina’s Godoy Cruz this evening.