After last week’s shortened playing calender week two of the 2012 Clausura had the full filling of nine games, taking advantage of the holiday weekend in Chile to spread the games over four days.
There were seven goals in the two games on the Friday night as Audax Italiano continue to search for defensive solidity while Antofagasta slipped nearer to the automatic relegation places in the Annual Standings.
On Saturday there was a surprise scorer for Unión Española as La Furia Roja fell to Cobresal who are a level at the top of the Clausura standings with four other teams, including Colo Colo who took on O’Higgins in our featured game of the weekend.
Perhaps the best game was saved until Monday as we caught our first glance of a slightly different Universidad de Chile in a game that produced seven goals against Deportes La Serena.
Sunday night saw the return of O’Higgins to league action after their heartbreaking Apertura play-off final defeat to Universidad de Chile on penalties.
Against a Colo Colo side looking to regroup under a new manager for the Clausura, and having started with a solid 1-0 away win against Deportes Iquique, O’Higgins showed little sign of a hangover despite falling behind early on, earning a 1-1 draw.
They dominated the game for long periods with Ramon Fernández and Luis Pedro Figueroa in particular causing Los Albos’ defence a number of problems. However with Boris Sagredo on the bench and last season’s top goal scorer Enzo Gutiérrez now at La U they could not turn all their possession and progressive football into the chances and goals that it perhaps deserved.
Omar Labruna is still settling into his managerial post at the Estadio Monumental, looking to mould his team into his preferred 3-4-1-2 shape. Sticking with a 4-2-2-2, it was noticeable, as the game wore on, that he was happy with a point that leaves them joint top of the Clausura standings with four points.
The game started in explosive fashion as both goals came within 10 minutes of Jorge Osorio’s whistle signalling the start of the game. Colo Colo were ahead after five minutes when Rodrigo Millar, advancing from his deeper midfield position alongside Fernando de la Fuente, was felled on the corner of the box by Paraguayan Rodrigo Rojas. Osorio had little option but to point to the penalty spot, although it appeared the nearside linesman was the one to give it – fine proactive officiating from the official.
Carlos Muñoz squeezed the resultant penalty past Luis Marín for his second goal in successive matches. A horrible way for O’Higgins to start their Clausura campaign; further penalty woe.
But they would not be behind for long. Play was switched beautifully out to the right wing by Rojas for Figueroa who breezed past Bruno Romo and sent a cross onto the head of Richard Blanco. Blanco, drifting in from the left, headed against Colo Colo captain Álvaro Ormeño, wrong-footing goalkeeper Reny Vega and the ball dropped into the bottom corner.
O’Higgins then took control of proceedings, swarming over Colo Colo with Figueroa pushing up on the right and Nelson Rebolledo on the left while Fernández dropped deeper to link with Rojas and dominate Millar and de la Fuente. Fernández was a driving force in the middle of the park but let down by his choice of pass.
Colo Colo’s best opportunities looked like coming on the counter-attack but with an out-of-sorts Mathías Vidangossy and Roberto Gutiérrez attacks were too slow and often broke down.
The closest the game came to its third goal was shortly after half-time when Millar ventured forward to collect possession outside O’Higgins’ box and curled a delicious effort with his weaker left-foot off the outside of the far post.
It pushed La Celeste further forward and Yerson Opazo began to link with Figueroa as the latter was not enjoying as much freedom as he did when up against Romo – Manuel Bravo having replaced the struggling left-back.
And it was Figueroa who almost had O’Higgins ahead. A floated free-kick was knocked back across goal but Figueroa could only knock the ball into the hands of Vega as he stretched at the back post.
As the game came to a close both goalkeepers had one last acrobatic save in them to show they were still very much focused on preserving the draw. First Reny Vega rose to his right to palm away a Carlos Escobar header before Luis Marín had to move his feet quickly to push over Vidangossy’s dipping volley.
Despite not collecting all three points Eduardo Berizzo will notice the mountain of positives from the match that show his team are more than capable of challenging in the Clausura play-offs. With Fernández and Rojas in midfield, support from the flanks and Figueroa and Sagredo O’Higgins have dynamism and verve with and without the ball and few teams look fitter.
Labruna announced he wasn’t happy with the point and wanted the win but deep down he’ll be content – shown in his side’s defensive solidity. There are still issues over width and creativity which need to be sorted out in the transfer market. Mauro Ollivi is still missing but they will be looking across town to Universidad Católica with envy as Los Cruzados have been proactive in their retirement under new manager Martín Lasarte.
Colo Colo shares the lead with four other teams on four points. Remarkably one of the teams is Cobresal. Los Mineros collected only their fourth win of 2012 with a 2-1 victory over Unión Española on Saturday evening. And to complete the string of surprises they came from behind to do so. Okay, so one more surprise. The Española goal was scored from the penalty spot by Eduardo Lobos. Eduardo Lobos the goalkeeper.
Juan Galeano and Luis Jimenez scored either side of half-time to take them level on points with Antofagasta in 16th place in the Annual table which decides relegation. If you need reminding of how relegation works have a look here.
The three other teams on four points are Palestino, Rangers and Unión La Calera. Palestino for the second week running secured a creditable away result, drawing 1-1 at Huachipato. Rangers defeated hapless Unión San Felipe in a woeful encounter in Talca. André Oroz scored as the game headed into stoppage time leaving San Felipe rooted to the bottom of the Annual Standings on 14 points. The game also saw another two red cards.
La Calera defeated a new-look Cobreloa 1-0 in Los Loínos’ first game of the Campeonato. Joao Ortiz’s solitary strike suggests that Raúl Toro may keep La Calera on the right road.
Friday night’s games saw Universidad de Concepción claim a late draw away at Audax Italiano, Gabriel Vargas’ late strike making it 2-2 while Antofagasta lost their opening game 2-1 at Deportes Iquique.
Arguably the busiest team in the transfer market so far, Universidad Católica, collected their first three points under Martín Lasarte with new signing from Deportes Iquique Alvaró Ramos shining.
Captain Cristian Álvarez made it 1-0 but Santiago Wanderers equalised through Michael Silva on the half-hour mark. Two goals in as many minutes with 10 minutes remaining put Cato in a commanding position with Roberto Ordenes’ goal a mere consolation.
The closing game of week 2 brought about the first glimpse of Universidad de Chile post-Marcelo Díaz (and Junior Fernándes) and they produced an emphatic statement to the rest of the Primera Divisón, certainly in the attacking phase of the game, winning 5-2.
However, missing José Rojas, Matías Rodríguez and Albert Acevedo, there were clear deficiencies at the back. Eduardo Morante – the Ecuadorian signed in January – played only his second game for the club after a long injury lay-off and it showed. He was beaten in the air in the build-up to both of La Serena’s goals, scored by Francisco Arrué – the second a wonderful volley across Jhonny Herrea which had similarities to Marco Van Basten all those years ago.
Arrué had opened the scoring but La U bounced back before half-time with goals from Charles Aránguiz – set-up by a deft clipped pass from Guillermo Marino – and Felipe Gallegos.
Arrué’s second had Los Papayeros level for barely 60 seconds after the break before Ángelo Henríquez put El León back in front.
Further icing was applied by Eduardo Morante’s header which brought about tears from the defender and then Enzo Gutiérrez who sped away from La Serena’s defence to score on his debut having been brought on as a substitute.
The score line did not tell the whole story with La Serena drawing praise from many for how they played, and controlled La U for periods of the game.
The standings can viewed at the ANFP website.