Week 15 Round-up – Top three lose as competition for play-off places at the top and bottom heats up

Jorge Ormeno celebrates scoring Santiago Wanderers’ winner (img: charlatecnica.cl)

Week 15 took on an unusual look due to local elections in Chile, meaning no games on Sunday. So instead we had games spread over four three days; Wednesday, Friday, Saturday and Monday (I’ll get to that at the end). However it did not detract from the importance of the third last round of fixtures with relegation, relegation play-off and play-off places all still up in the air; a feature of the Primera División, with only 17 games in each tournament the league table always remains close.

There were a number of surprises as the top three were all defeated, including Colo Colo, allowing Palestino to nip in and overtake the aforementioned Colo Colo, Deportes Iquique and Rangers to the top of the table.

In the middle of the Clausura, in the scrap for a play-off place, little changed in the way of position but in terms of closeness the competition for places is at boiling point with nine teams separated by four points with three places realistically up for grabs.

At the bottom it is tight but with only five teams realistically involved; four points separating the five teams.

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Deportes Iquique and Universidad Católica continue Chile’s good start in the Copa Sudamericana

Ereros and Diaz celebrate the former’s opener against Nacional (img: copa-sudamericana.info)

The 2012 Copa Sudamericana has started well for the Chilean clubs with a record of four games unbeaten.

Last week saw Cobreloa and O’Higgins record a win and draw respectively and this week it was the turn of Deportes Iquique and Universidad Católica; the duo followed suit with a win and a draw.

Iquique received arguably the toughest draws of the four Chilean clubs, paired with Nacional but Fernando Vergara’s side put in Chile’s finest performance with a comfortable 2-0 victory; giving the side a solid lead as they head into the second-leg.

Católica had to make the toughest trip, to Bolivia. Cato are still to find their feet under new boss Martín Lasarte, displaying their quality in sporadic bursts so far. In terms of performance they disappointed against Blooming but can be satisfied taking a 1-1 draw back to the Estadio San Carlos.

Deportes Iquique 2-0 Nacional

Iquique kicked things of on Tuesday as they welcomed Uruguayan giants Nacional to the Tierra de Campeones stadium. Despite a nervy start against the three-time Copa Libertadores champions Los Dragones Celestes emerged as the stronger side as the game progressed, going ahead through Sebastián Ereros. Enganche Rodrigo Díaz was in fine form and Iquique could have been further in front before the half-time whistle.

On the previous Friday evening Iquique conceded five to Rangers, but were defensively sound, keeping the experienced talents and his wand of a left-foot quite throughout the match.

A second goal was added was through a well-taken volley from Misael Dávila to give the Chileans a commanding position going into the second-leg in Uruguay.

Blooming 1-1 Universidad Católica

Católica made their way to Bolivia to take on Club Blooming in Santa Cruz. Cato were coming into the game on the back of a 2-2 draw in Antofagasta where they were left frustrated by the concession of a late equaliser.

It appeared they were still suffering from the disappointment of the weekend’s result as they started slowly with the first-half a non-event.

It was no surprise that the opening goal scored by Álvaro Ramos came only minutes after the arrival of Michael Ríos onto the field of play. Ríos has been Los Cruzados’ most influential out field player since the Clausura begun and provided the assist for Ramos.

However Cato’s defensive problems resurfaced as Blooming equalised only a minute later, and for once this season the excellent Cristopher Toselli has to take a large proportion of the blame. The ‘keeper, so impressive of late, came for a cross but showed little conviction as Limbert Méndez was first to the corner and headed into the vacant net.

Despite their inability to hold onto the lead Católica and manager Lasarte will be content with the result, knowing that they are favourites to prevail over the two-legs.

Week 6 Round-Up – O’Higgins lead the way beside La U, Colo Colo continue to misfire, the first managerial casualty and Audax finally win.

Universidad de Concepcion v O'Higgins (image: purofutbol.cl)

Universidad de Chile followed up their midweek win against Cobreloa with a 3-1 triumph against Cobresal to join O’Higgins at the summit of the Apertura. The Rancagua outfit have been going strong under new manager Eduardo Berizzo, unbeaten in four to place ahead of La U on goal difference with 13 points each.

Colo Colo continued their miserly form in front of goal escaping from Valparaíso with a point after Santiago Wanderers missed two penalties. There were wins for Santiago rivals Unión Española and Universidad Católica who consolidate their positions in the play-offs.

Audax Italiano finally broke their duck away at Deportes Iquique with a 2-1 win, leaving Cobresal as the only side yet to collect a first win of the season which cost Luis Musrri his job.

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Week 5 Talking Points and Round-up – Audax and Palestino get all Serie A, Cobreloa’s consistency and TRO’s curse strikes again

'¿Cuánto tiempo tengo?' (Image: Mundo.d)

The tumultuous start to the Chilean Apertura continued as four teams picked up their first win of the season, Universidad de Chile suffered a heavy defeat in Rancagua, Colo Colo were booed off again and TRO keeps getting things wrong.

However a win still eludes Audax Italiano (and Cobresal) despite remaining highly watch-able. This time they were out-done by a Daniel Carreno’s Palestino who have been unlikely to have to wait until the fifth week to collect their first win. But from the game question marks still persist over the way Omar Labruna sets up his Audax side.

Elsewhere it was Cobreloa’s turn to occupy top spot after a comprehensive 3-0 success away at Rangers. Their sheer consistency has been enough to put them above everyone else, despite having played one game less.

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Week 2 Round-up: La U are off and running but it is Union Espanola who lead the way . . .

Hat-trick hero Jaime (image ANFP.cl)

Goals were more forthcoming in week 2 as Clausura finalists Universidad de Chile and Cobreloa kicked off their Apertura seasons with wins. But both are left looking upwards at Unión Española who continue their thrilling start to the season. A fine individual performance from Mauro Díaz was part of a fabulous team performance as they pummelled Cobresal.

La U struggled to break down La Serena on Saturday evening until the introduction of new boy Raúl Ruidíaz at half-time. Colo Colo also collected their first win of the season while Universidad Católica endure their poor away form which blighted their Clausura campaign.

Santiago Wanderers, Palestino, Audax Italiano and Antofagasta all got of the mark.

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Apertura 2012: Week 1 Round-up – The new season gets off to a tame start in the heat

Catolica and Palestino clash (IMG: ANFP)

With the Clausura’s top two – Universidad de Chile and Cobreloa – not in action there was a chance for one of the contenders to lay down an early marker as Santiago inhabitants looked to escape the baking heat which had swept the capital.

However Colo Colo were booed off at home to Deportes Iquique – who had new signing Edson Puch impressing on his debut – while Universidad Católica recovered from an insipid first half performance to collect three points. There was better news for Union  Española who added to their first round first-leg Coap Libertadores win with maximum points.

The two promoted teams enjoyed mix fortunes back in the Primera.

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Week 17 Round-up – Regular season ends paving the way for the play-offs

Santiago Morning's (right) four-year Primera spell over (IMG: ANFP)

Two Championship play-off places, two relegation play-off places and one automatic relegation place were ‘up for grabs’ at the weekend. Nine teams were involved meaning six games kicked off simultaneously. The permutations seemed endless. The hope, the fear, the excitement and the despair.

The 90 minutes of football had it all as 23 goals were exchanged in the six games.

Could Santiago Morning stave off relegation and do the unthinkable and reach the Clausura play-offs? Could Unión Española blow their place in the Clausura play-offs? Could Unión San Felipe win for the frost time in eight matches to rise out of danger?

All will be answered . . . (and there’ll even be mention of Universidad de Chile reaching a remarkable landmark without any of their heavy –hitters)

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