With Universidad de Chile heading to Japan via Australia to take part in the Suruga Bank Championship against Kashima Antlers it was another week for those at the top of the Clausura to extend their lead over the winners of the last three Campeonato’s.
Audax Italiano, Cobresal and Rangers done just that as the trio remain beaten having each won two and drawn two. Audax and Rangers in particular recorded emphatic victories; the latter’s defeat of Iquique especially impressive.
On the back of signing exciting forward players both Colo Colo and Universidad Católica looked good value to pick up wins at Unión La Calera and Anotfagasta respectively. But despite both playing to their fans’ expectations in sizeable periods of their matches they were both left disappointed due to conceding to a 90th and 93rd minute equalisers.
Down at the bottom of the table Unión San Felipe edge closer to the drop having picked up one win in 17, while on current form it will be Santiago Wanderers who will be joining them in Primera B.
Universidad Católica played some of their best football since the appointment of Martín Lasarte in an exhilarating opening period but only travelled back to Santiago from Antofagasta with a draw after substitute Javier Elizondo volleyed a late equaliser for the home side, making it 2-2.
Cato exploded into the match with some fantastic attacking interplay with Michael Ríos and Fernando Cordero heavily involved.
Francisco Pizarro was the first to go close; stabbing a Pablo González cut-back the wrong side of the post before Cato deservedly took the lead.
Cato broke quickly from the middle of the park with Cordero, who has been charged with replacing the creativity Felipe Gutiérrez provided. It appeared he would set up González for an effort from the edge of the box but González stepped over the ball as Ríos, reading his intentions, followed up and hit a tame, bobbling shot that resembled a poor pass-back. However Antofagasta goalkeeper Sebastián López took a leaf out of Giles Rousset’s (3.40)book and let the ball squirm under his legs and trickle over the line.
With Tomás Costa and Francisco Silva providing a base for attacks in the midfield Los Cruzados looked like they could have this encounter wrapped up by half-time, giving Lasarte his third win in a row and taking Cato to the top of the Clausura.
The Pumas had other ideas and hit back by testing the reflexes of Cristopher Toselli in the Católica goal. Toselli would then face a penalty for the second week running; Eric Pino’s driving run into the box halted by a slight tug of his shirt by Marko Biskupovic. And for the second week running Toselli would be the victor from 12 yards, saving from Patricio Rubina.
Antofagasta were now starting to cause Cato frequent problems with their direct approach; hitting ‘passes’ into the flanks for Arismendi to chase down or into the physical presence of his strike partner Diego Ruiz. Add in Pino’s runs from midfield and Cato at times must have felt they were under heavy fire. But with Toselli in fine form they were able to survive to half-time; Arismendi having an effort saved by the legs of Cato’s number 1.
Cato’s resistance would last only six minutes of the second half as the front two combined to devastating affect. Arismendi got in behind the away side’s defence again, crossing for the intimidating figure of Ruiz to head home.
Católica were struggling and needed inspiration. Inspiration that materialised through the introduction of Fernando Meneses – the player having returned to the club after a controversial move away from the club in January. Meneses’ work down the right created an opportunity for Ríos to grab his second of the game but the goal scorer could only scuff a shot across goal where another substitute Matías Mier was on hand to turn in to the empty net.
That seemed to clinch the points until another substitute, this time for Antofagasta, rescued a point as the gamer entered stoppage. Replacing Ruiz, Javier Elizondo was found in space in the middle of Cato’s area, hitting a volley into the ground and then net securing a deserved draw for the home side.
On Friday night Rangers went to the top of the Clausura table with a quite unbelievable 5-0 thrashing of Deportes Iquique – the team with the second best overall record for 2012.
On seeing the result it would be easily to surmise that Iquique were resting players for their upcoming Copa Sudamericana first phase tie with Uruguayan’s Nacional. However that was not the case with Fernando Vergara putting out a strong side, handing a debut to new signing Leonardo Monje.
What transpired was a disaster as Milton (Joel) Caraglio netted the Clausura’s first hat-trick and Francsico Tapia added a double.
Rangers were joined on 8 points by two further sides on Saturday night. Cobresal drew 1-1 with Universidad de Concepción despite taking an early lead through Oscar Salinas while Audax Italiano made it two successive victories, defeating hapless Santiago Wanderers 4-1 in La Florida. Coach, Pablo Marini was left satisfied with his attacking options with four different scorers; none of which was Sebastián Sáez who has already garnered four goals in the Clausura.
Santiago Wanderers are now 11 without a victory; Arturo Salah’s side have yet to recover from losing striker Sebastián Ubilla to Universidad de Chile and are hurtling towards the relegation zone in the annual table – now only one point ahead of Cobresal who occupy the last automatic relegation spot.
Unión Española followed up their impressive triumph at O’Higgins with another fine showing at home to Primera B bound Unión San Felipe, despite playing over half the match with ten men – Mauro Díaz getting his marching orders.
Patricio Rubio scored again while there was a fine performance from Gonzalo Barriga and Emiliano Vecchio returned to the squad, playing over half an hour.
It seems the Cobreloa’s win in the Copa Sudamericana has done them a world of good as they returned to domestic business with their first win of the Claursura. The hero of the win in Paraguay, Patricio Troncos, netted the only goal away to Huachipato.
Sunday night saw a late defensive calamity cost Colo Colo all three points away to Unión La Calera. Carlos Muñoz opened the scoring meaning he is the only player to score in all four games he’s played in the Clausura. But Christian Vilches’s and Leandro Delgado’s inability to communicate and effectively deal with a straightforward ball played behind the defence allowed Leandro Benegas to nip in and rescue a point for La Calera with the last kick of the game.
O’Higgins recorded their first win of the Clausura on Sunday evening, coming from behind to defeat Deportes La Serena. Goals for the Rancagua side haven’t been hard to come by, scoring in every game so far including three against Cerro Porteño in the Copa Sudamericana. However clean sheets have; they’ve conceded in all four games they’ve played during this Campeonato which included the defensive horror show against the Paraguayans.
La Celeste are still searching for a clean sheet as La Serena took the lead through Mauricio Salazar’s penalty. But goals from two of their new attacking players, Richard Blanco’s 5th of the season and Carlos Escobar first, gave Eduardo Berizzo a vital three points as they head into big matches against Universidad de Chile and Cerro Porteño, both of which are away from.