Universidad de Chile made it nine straight wins to top Copa Libertadores Group 8 and set-up a last-16 tie with Depotivo Quito by taking revenge from their opening group game defeat; El Chuncho recorded a 2-1 victory over Colombian’s Atlético Nacional.
There were rare starts for 18-year-old Sebastián Martínez and Emilio Hernández but Jorge Sampaoli resisted the urge to make wholesale changes knowing a win would see Los Azules top the group and take their place as a seeded team in the draw.
It only took ten minutes for the first goal to be registered between two of the most impressive sides in the Libertadores so far. And it came from a source that some readers may now be (more) familiar with.
Matías Rodríguez has arguably been La U’s player of the year so far and his impressive performances, both domestically and in the Libertadores, suggest that it is only a matter of time before he his given his debut for Argentina.
La U knocked the ball from side-to-side, probing weaknesses in the Atlético’s defensive shape as the away side put up a green wall. But a penetrative run from deep by Rodríguez saw him reach a loose ball on the edge of the Colombian’s box and zip a shot past Gaston Pezzuti into the far corner.
It was the Argentine’s 7th goal of 2012, surpassing his goal scoring feats in his previous seasons as a professional, with more than eight months left of the year.
However just past the hour mark El Verde drew level thanks to one of the tournaments breakout stars. Marcelo Díaz looked to have snuffed out Atlético’s attack as he dispossessed Dorlan Pabón. But Pabón won the ball back immediately to find Diego Álvarez before carrying his run into the box and unleashing a shot, with all the ferocity that fans of the Copa Libertadores and Colombian football have come to expect from the dynamic forward, past Jhonny Herrera.
The winner came only five minutes later in a goal borne out of sheer simplicity. A free-kick 15 yards into Los Verdolagas was whipped deep into the penalty area by Marcelo Díaz where it was delicately glanced inside the far post by Osvaldo González whose run to the corner of the six-yard box had gone unchecked.
The win means that Universidad de Chile will travel to Quito in the first-leg at the beginning of May before welcoming the Ecuadorians to Santiago a week later.