Any passer-by, with a semblance of world football knowledge, looking at the Clausura table would be surprised to see the traditional trio of Chilean giants placed 4th, 5th and 6th.
And as the old adage goes ‘the league table never lies’; in first place we have Deportes Iquique, followed by Rangers and then Palestino. Collectively they have won 21 games of the 36 they’ve played in the Clausura compared to the 17 victories Colo Colo, Universidad Católica and Universidad de Chile have amassed in the same number of games.
But they will have to continue their fine form to hold off the challenge of Colo Colo who currently rampant as they look to Continental competition for the first time in two years.
Down at the bottom the fight continues to avoid the bottom four places in the annual table; bottom two are automatically relegated while 3rd and 4th bottom contest a play-off with sides from the Primera B.
However on paper there was only one contender for game of the week, the Clausura’s first el clásico as Universidad Católica entertained Colo Colo at the Estadio San Carlos. And that is the focus of this week’s round-up:
Universidad Católica 0-2 Colo Colo
Colo Colo jumped above arch-rivals Universidad de Chile with a win against their other Santiago rivals Universidad Católica on Sunday afternoon, carrying on their excellent form which now stands at seven consecutive wins in all competitions while going 540 minutes without conceding in the meantime.
Unsurprisingly the game started in a feisty fashion, the first yellow card coming after 20 seconds as referee Patricio Polic looked to exert his authority and keep a lid on proceedings. The game carried on in similar fashion for the first 20 minutes as little football was played.
Despite the two sides’ contrasting form it was Cato who took control of matters as Francisco Silva and Michael Ríos bossed their midfield counterparts, the returning Rodrigo Millar and Fernando De la Fuente; both teams lining up in 4-2-2-2 formation.
And the first real chance went the way of Cato, and what a chance it was. Michael Ríos’ bouncing through ball sent Roberto Ovelar away one on one with Francisco Prieto but the Paraguayan missed the target completely, placing the ball wide of the post.
Ovelar’s strike partner, Alvaro Ramos, was next to go close but his header clipped the bar on its way over.
The second half started in similar fashion to how the second finished; Cato on top and controlling possession. A superb cross from Fernando Cordero out on the left was met by Ovelar but he was denied by Prieto who saved down to his right and held onto the ball.
Colo Colo were on the periphery of the match but with talent like Felipe Flores and Carlos Muñoz in striking positions Los Albos are always dangerous. And so it proved. A long ball once again caused problems for the once again reshuffled Católica backline as Felipe Flores, not known for his aerial prowess, won a header and Muñoz was quickest to react, skipping into the box and clinically finishing into the far corner past Toselli.
And the game was all but out of reach for Los Cruzados when Gonzalo Fierro scored from 12 yards after Juan Guillermo Domínguez – who played a more conservative role in the first half – was hacked down by David Henríquez.
Cato tried to rally as Martín Lasarte threw on attacking players from the bench; Nicolas Trecco going closest with an effort coming back off the bar.
To make matters worse Fernando Meneses was shown a red card AFTER being substituted for criticising Polic. He’ll now miss the UC’s games against La Serena and Huachipato.
Friday night’s offering once again brought goals! A frenzied first-half between O’Higgins and Huachipato saw five scored. Huachipato raced into an early three goal lead in Rancagua thanks in part to generous goalkeeping, generous defending and excellent finishing. But the Steelers let the hosts back into the game by sitting off and allowing Ramon Fernández to drive with the ball and create openings; leading the charge as Eduardo Berizzo’s side got back into the match just when it looked lost.
The second half was mundane in comparison to the first-half frenzy; Manuel Villalobos scoring the only goal with a back post header to secure a 4-2 away win for Huachipato.
Universidad de Chile recorded a third successive league draw at ‘home’ (the game was played at the Estadio Santa Laura) to Unión La Calera. It was a much changed team from the side that were defeated 2-0 by Santos in the Recopa Sudamericana. Raúl Toro set his La Calera team out to contain La U and it worked as los Cementeros were comfortable throughout.
Milton Caraglio continued his fine goal scoring form in Rangers’ hard-fought 1-0 win over Unión Española who are now four games without a win in the league. Caraglio’s 4th minute wonder goal proved the difference. The tall striker brought the ball down 35 yards from goal and as the Española defence backed off he turned and sent a spectacular volley into the top corner. Española dominated possession in the second half but could not find a way through the home side’s defence.
Cobresal continued their recent run of good form with a 3-1 defeat of Antofagasta; lifting them above their opponents and into 7th in the Clausura. The victory also takes them out of the relegation zone in the annual table.
Cobresal’s relegation rivals Universidad de Concepción and Unión San Felipe. Claudio Latorre’s goal looked like it might take San Felipe into the Clausura play-off places but José Luis Jimenez equalised for Concepción to give them what could prove a vital point in their ambitions to avoid the drop.
Audax Italiano ended a run of seven league games without a win with a crazy 3-2 win over fellow strugglers Deportes La Serena – all goals coming in the first half. Mauricio Salazar and Matías Jadue had La Serena ahead twice. But they could not hold on to give new boss Marcelo Caro his debut win as Gabriel Rodríguez scored twice for Los Tanos.
Deportes Iquique could not quite make it seven successive league wins at home to 12th placed Cobreloa. Boris Rieloff put Los Dragones Celestes in front but for only seven minutes, Gerson Martínez equalising to prevent Iquique joining Rangers at the top of Clausura on 25 points. Iquique are still in a very strong position of being one of Chile’s three entrants into next year’s Copa Libetadores.
Week 12 finished as it had started – goles y goles y goles! And there was another frenzied first half with just the four goals. Jason Silva opened the scoring for Palestino to get proceedings under way but Santiago Wanderers took only ten minutes to reply through Rodrigo Toloza’s deflected free-kick. The home side then went in front seven minutes later; Ariel Cólzera scoring a soft penalty.
Wanderers, now managed by Ivo Basay, showed their defensive frailties – Los Caturros possess the second worse defence in the Clausura – allowing Rodrigo Riquelme to equalise before half-time.
El Tricolor snatched the three points late on through Diego Rosenede’s first goal of the year, lifting the side to the heady heights of second in the Clausura; above all three Santiago giants.
The Clausura and Annual table can be viewed here.
The weekend’s goal can be seen here.