Once again there wasn’t a full card of games in the Chile Primera División with Universidad de Chile travelling back from their Suruga Bank Championship disappointment.
So for the third time in five rounds it was left to the others to stake a claim as ‘likely challengers’ to La U’s dominance. And once again Colo Colo and Universidad Católica were nowhere to be seen, both struggling to draws.
Rangers on the other hand opened up a two point gap at the top with a win at Cobreloa. Audax Italiano and Cobresal failed to win but will be happy with draws away to Palestino and Unión La Calera.
Deportes Iquique’s strange behaviour continued as they fell to another heavy defeat while miracles do exist after all. Unión San Felipe won. Although in Valparaíso they are more sceptical after Santiago Wanderers didn’t.
Looking at the programme of matches in week 5 there was only one that stood out – Universidad Católica and Unión Española. It would be the sixth meeting between the sides this season and what transpired would be a contrast in halves; the first perhaps being the worst 45 minutes the two sides have played when facing each other, the second bringing about drama and controversy.
Cato had been playing in Bolivia on the Thursday night as they recorded a competent 1-1 against Blooming in the Copa Sudamericana. And it appeared that the game and the accompanied travelling had taken its toll as they struggled to exert their home advantage in front of a noisy San Carlos crowd.
Española possessed the player most likely to make something happen, Emilio Hernández. La Furia Roja controlled possession, acquiring the ball with ease due to Católica’s slack passing out of defence and in midfield. However chances were at a premium.
Sebastián Jaime raced away in the 36th minute but his effort from a narrow angle was easily turned behind by Cristopher Toselli – the villain of the piece in Bolivia. Jorge Ampuero headed over from a good position in the box as the first half petered out.
As this writer headed for bed the players must have realised this in Santiago as they put on a better showing in the second half, the pace of the game increasing.
Cato went ahead in the 70th minute through the returning Fernando Meneses. If you don’t know much about Meneses let me briefly fill you in. In January he was linked with a move to Universidad de Chile and had his heart set on leaving Cato. Due to certain stipulations in Meneses’ contract his agent (and Meneses) thought he was able to leave Cato for free. After much speculation, controversy and complexities he ended up at Peruvians Alianza Lima. He turned back up at Cato a few weeks back.
Anyway he was not receiving the best reception from the Universidad Católica faithful; constantly whistled when in possession of the ball. But in the 70th minute (remember me mentioning he scored) he reminded everyone of the quality he possesses, cutting onto his left-foot and firing a shot from a tight angle past the helpless Eduardo Lobos and into the top corner before pleading for forgiveness while celebrating.
That’s not the end to the drama. The returning Enzo Andía, restored to centre back due to Cristián Álvarez’s testicular injury, conceded a penalty for the second game running. And for the second time running it was for a needless handball.
The penalty taker for Española may be a surprise to readers. It is none other than goalkeeper Eduardo Lobos. Despite a slip he managed to hit the penalty with enough power to find its way past Toselli and give the goalkeeper his second goal of the Clausura season making him the club’s second top scorer in the process.
That was the drama. Now for the controversy.
The 79th minute substitute of Mauro Díaz replacing Gonzalo Villagra seemed innocent enough at the time. But unknown to José Luis Sierra Díaz would be Española’s sixth foreign player on the pitch which goes against the ANFP rules which state that no team must have more than five foreign players on the pitch at the one time.
This lapse by the management is likely to cost Española a point, handing a 3-0 victory to Católica while they also suffer a fine. The penalty of fielding more than five foreign players.
The situation has caused Sierra some distress and the coach considered handing in his resignation over the mistake but he has rightly been backed the Española board.
Cato remain unbeaten in the league and welcome Blooming to Santiago on Thursday in the second-leg of the Copa Sudamericana first phase.
A shooting star flashed across the night sky on Friday indicating that Unión San Felipe had finally won; only their second win in 18 matches.
Their 2-1 victory over Antofagasta brought them to within four points of their relegation rivals in the Annual standings.
Manager Marco Antonio Figueroa will be hoping that the first half goals from Juan Toloza and Felipe Romero kick starts his new side’s fight to survive in the Primera División – or at the very least to finish in the relegation play-off positions.
Some 0-0 draws can be exciting, enthralling or at the very least interesting. Palestino v Audax Italiano wasn’t one of those occasions. Next.
There is just no stopping Rangers as Los Rojinegros took a 5th minute lead at Cobreloa through Andres Oroz to go out top on their own whilst continuing to pull themselves away from the relegation places at the same time.
Santiago Wanderers still can’t win. However they did rescue a very late, and what could prove invaluable, point at home to Deportes La Serena – if they can get themselves sorted out before they are stuck in the relegation zone. Mauricio Salazar gave La Serena the lead on the stroke of half-time. Substitute Hector Nuñez was the saviour in Valparaíso.
Deportes Iquique once again left fans scratching their head after a weekend that saw them fall to Huachipato 4-1. The week before they were beaten 5-0 by Rangers. Yet in between the two heavy defeats they beat Uruguayan giants Nacional 2-0 in the Copa Sudamericana. Squad rotation? Not really. Cesar Cortés was among the goal for the Steelers, topping off a fine week which saw him called up to the Chile squad for the friendly against Ecuador.
Cobresal remain unbeaten in the Clausura securing a 1-1 draw at Unión La Calera which may have felt like a win as they played the majority of the game with ten men. Two minutes before Gerardo Martinez’s sending-off Miguel Angel Cuellar put Los Mineros ahead. Calera’s Angel Carreño capped an incident packed start to the second half equalising in the 50th minute, barely a minute after Martinez’s red card.
Colo Colo can change managers but the dynamic of the team and end product continues to remain the same. Away to Universidad de Concepción they fell behind to a lovely left-foot volley from Alejandro Gaete which curled away from Reny Vega. Los Albos were level seven minutes later as Mathias Vidangossy tried to out-do Gaete with a thunderous goal from 25 yards into the top corner.
That’s when the quality begun to nosedive as the game fell into a pedestrian pace only brightened up by the re-emergence of Colo Colo’s indiscipline. First it was Maruo Olivi, playing his first game of the Clausura after suspension, to see red card for a late challenge. Then Rafael Caroca denied Concepción a goal scoring opportunity and followed Olivi down the tunnel.
There was brighter news when Facundo Coria appeared for his debut. Omar Labruna hopes Coria will be the number 10 his side have been missing.
Concepción almost snatched the win when substitute Gerardo Navarrete almost scored with his first touch, his volley clipping the top of the bar.