Barely 100 hours had passed after Jhonny Herrea’s third penalty save clinched Universidad de Chile their third successive Campeonato that the Chilean season was back under way as Deportes La Serena and Rangers contested the first game of the 2012 Clausura tournament.
With La U and their final conquests O’Higgins given the weekend off it was a shortened week one calendar with only seven games and at one point it looked as if there would be seven draws until Carlos Muñoz scored a controversial late winner to give Colo Colo three points in the penultimate game of the weekend.
There was also a win for Palestino at Universidad Católica while Cobresal performed admirably to open with a draw despite playing with eight men at one point. However there was only one winner in the game of the weekend; the clásico de colonias where Unión Española and Audax Italiano shared six goals.
Audax Italiano had new boss Pablo Marini in the dugout after Omar Labruna left for Colo Colo but in the short space of time since taking over even he could not eradicate the defensive problems which plagued Los Tanos in the Apertura – conceding 33 goals in 17 games.
These defensive problems were evident as José Luis Sierra’s side went in front in the 10th minute as Sebastián Jaime’s scuffed volley deflected in-off Ivan Vásquez as Italiano failed to sufficiently clear their lines.
Audax equalised a few minutes later when defender Lucas Dominguez stabbed home having been set-up by Marco Medel’s burst and cross in the box.
Controversy struck as the game headed towards half-time when Española scored through Patricio Rubio despite two valid complaints from the away side. First Los Itálicos should have had a corner but with their claims denied La Furija Roja went up the park and Rubio found space to swivel and score past Alejandro Sánchez who looked to be put off by the presence of Jaime in an offside position.
But again their lead did not last long as Sebastián Sáez equalised after the allotted two minutes of stoppage time had been played. And five minutes after the break they were in front, Marco Medel sneaking in at the back post unnoticed to fire past Edaurdo Lobos.
So it was up to Española to come back from behind and like Italiano they did so shortly after Medel’s goal; Rubio emphatically finishing off a counter-attack which was brought about by a slack pass in the midfield.
Sunday’s games saw both Colo Colo and Universidad Católica involved. Both sides were under new management and looking enviously towards Universidad de Chile and the success and stability they have enjoyed in the last 18 months.
Colo Colo were first up as they attempted to lay-down a marker away to Deportes Iquique. In the end they emerged victorious but it was not easy as Iquique controlled large periods of the game, none more so than when Rafael Caroca was shown a second-yellow card for Los Albos. But before Caroca exited the game Colo Colo had survived an almighty scare when Iquique hit the bar and post within seconds.
As the game began to peter out it looked like Colo Colo had escaped with a draw only for, out of nothing, Carlos Muñoz to grab a winner. A lofted pass over the top of the Iquique defence, who were moving up the pitch, freed Muñoz to run through, knock the ball over Rodrigo Naranjo and roll the ball into the empty net.
As Muñoz celebrated with the travelling fans Iquique’s coaching staff and substitutes surrounded the near-side linesman, while on the pitch Sebastián Toro fumed with rage, shouting at the referee, the linesman and anyone who would listen.
Things would only worsen at the full-time whistle. As the linesman made his way onto the pitch to meet the referee he was followed by what seemed like every member of coaching and playing staff who were in turn followed by a host of riot police carrying shields. The police put up an impenetrable wall around the officials and escorted them off the field.
The concluding game of the weekend saw Palestino put in an impressive performance under new boss Emiliano Astorga at the Estadio San Carlos as they out-passed and out-scored Universidad Católica and their new coach Martin Lasarte.
The Árabes zipped the ball around with confidence in midfield, Uruguayan Gaston Filguiera bombed forward from left-back and the front pairing of Lucas Simón and Diego Cháves were a nuisance for Cato’s back-four. And they went ahead six minutes from half-time as Simón slid in his first goal for his new club on his debut.
Católica struggled to create clear-cut chances as they rushed their play in the attacking phase.
To compound Católica’s woes Nicolas Castillo was given a second yellow card to take the tally of red cards for the weekend to nine.
There were not a significant number of goals elsewhere. In Friday’s opener Rangers came from a goal down and a man down to secure a point at Deportes La Serena before having a man sent-off themselves. 1-1 was also the score between a Sebastián Ubilla-less Santiago Wanderers and Huachipato.
The games between Universidad de Concepción and Unión La Calera and Unión San Felipe and Cobresal failed to produce a single goal yet five red cards materialised. Concepción had two men sent-off whereas Cobresal went one better, playing the last half an hour with eight men.