The 0-0 isn’t the most popular score line in Chile’s Primera División, but thanks to some wonderful goalkeeping from Paulo Garcés and Cristopher Toselli, coupled with poor finishing the ‘Clásicoo Universitario’ between Universidad de Chile and Universidad Católica served up a goal less draw. The result leaves Católica seeking qualification to the play-offs going into the final week.
The game can be filed into the ‘exciting 0-0’ category as two sides with contrasting styles of play came together at a sun-baked Estadio Nacional; proactive v reactive. La U looked to pass their way through UC with invention and speed and Los Cruzados settled for a direct approach on the counter-attack.
A lot was being made of the importance of the ‘Clásico Universitario’ in the build-up up to Sunday’s encounter with the match sandwiched between Copa Sudamericana quarter-final ties involving both sides. La U boss Jorge Sampaoli stoked the fire by stating he would rest players against Católica but would not do so against Colo Colo.
Read the rest of the match report at SouthAmericanFootball.co.uk
While the ‘Clásico Universitario’ was the ‘big’ game of the weekend there was plenty going on down at the bottom of the table as teams fight, scrap and any other adjectives you can come up with to for survival. Before we get into it let me explain the relegation procedure once again:
The clubs finishing 17th and 18th in the Annual table are automatically relegated.
The clubs finishing 15th and 16th enter a relegation play-off with two teams from the Primera B.
Going into the weekend there were realistically six teams involved with a seventh team, Unión La Calera, on the periphery. What transpired was exciting, surprising and dramatic . . .
Deportes La Serena has had what can only be described as an unmitigated disaster in the Clausura. Since Miguel Ponce was relieved of his duties La Serena has dropped faster than Felix Baumgartner falling from space. However as the clocked hit the 86th minute mark in El Salvador on Saturday they looked to have given themselves a fighting chance going into the final weekend. They led fellow relegation rivals Cobresal 2-0 thanks to a double from Guatemalan Minor Lopez; a scoreline that would have taken them off the foot of the table. Agustín Vuletich scored with three minutes remaining and the inevitable was going to happen. Strong teams with strong players would hold on, but Cobresal knowing they couldn’t afford to lose threw everything forward. With the kitchen sink came goalkeeper Ezequiel Medrán. Surely not. Not a Jimmy Glass moment.
It happened. Of course it happened. As La Serena goalkeeper Rainer Wirth got nowhere near a cross for the second time Medrán headed in among ruck of bodies.
And with results going against them La Serena were relegated. Just like that.
Universidad de Concepción started the weekend of surprise results with a 1-0 victory over Rangers on Friday night. Despite having a game in hand Concepción required a positive result with their remaining fixtures against Universidad de Chile and Universidad Católica who still haven’t confirmed a play-off place.
On Saturday night it was the turn of Unión San Felipe who looked doomed as early as August. But a run of six wins in 12 has been enough to give them not just a glimmer of hope but a full ray of sunshine of hope. Their escape continued away to Palestino who led the league going into the weekend. The quality of Miguel Ángel González was again imperative for San Felipe, converting a penalty and providing a creative presence that many teams lack.
24 hours later and Santiago Wanderers were getting in on the act away at play-off chasing Cobreloa. While eyes were fixed on Santiago and the ‘Clásico Universitario’ Wanderers were handing out a thumping in Calama as they went into a three goal lead. The importance of the wide players and their contribution in providing the strikers was again evident as both strikers were on target as well as Boris Sandoval and Rodrigo Toloza as they ran out 4-2 winners.
Antofagasta, who for the last few weeks must have felt safe, have been dragged back into relegation trouble due to the trio of Concepción, San Felipe and Wanderers all winning. They can not fall into the automatic places but after their 2-1 defeat to Colo Colo they are now only a point ahead of Concepción and two in front of San Felipe, the two teams that occupy the relegation play-off spots.
Meanwhile Colo Colo reached the summit of the Clausura; the first time they have led the league the nearly two years.
Colo Colo is one of six teams who have confirmed their place in the Clausura play-offs. The others being Palestino, Rangers, Deportes Iquique, Universidad de Chile and Huachipato who made sure with a 2-0 away win against Unión La Calera.
This leaves seven teams trying to fill two spots. The current incumbents are Audax Italiano and Universidad Católica. Audax continued their imperious form with a 5-1 thrashing of O’Higgins as Sebastián Saez kept up his fine goal scoring record, netting his fifth in four games. It is now 13 points from their last 15 for Audax, giving them a two point buffer from those out with the play-off places. As we have mentioned Católica are in eighth place with a one point lead.
The chasing pack includes O’Higgins, Antofagasta, Cobreloa, Unión San Felipe and Unión Española.
It looked improbable that Española would reach the play-offs after falling to Universidad de Concepción only two weeks ago. But consecutive wins has given them a fighting chance. They visited Deportes Iquique, falling behind in the opening minutes. However anyone that has ever asked me which Chilean team I follow is always met with the same answer: ‘no one but I really enjoy watching Unión Española’. They stormed back with three goals in six first half minutes, contributing to a 4-2 win.
The final week’s fixtures have had to be arranged due to the Universidad de Concepción’s games in hand against Universidad de Chile. This means they will play Universidad Católica on Sunday then La U on Tuesday evening. Due to this rearrangement the rest of the teams involved in the relegation picture will also play on the Tuesday. The other matches are spread over Saturday and Sunday. The full fixture list can be found here.