First of all I would like to apologise for the lack of round-up for the past weekend’s games. A busy weekend meant I was only able to watch 45 minutes worth of football.
In short Rangers won again (away at Universidad Católica), Universidad de Chile came from behind to hand Cobresal their first defeat of the Clausura. Colo Colo, for the second week running, finished with nine men as they drew 1-1 with Santiago Wanderers. Carlos Muñoz, who had earlier scored his fourth in six games, played in goals for the remaining 7 minutes after Reny Vega was sent-off for bringing down a player outside the box. He admitted after the game that he often ‘hits the sticks’ in training. Unión San Felipe were back to their losing ways.
Anyway this post is to let readers know that I will be travelling Europe for the next five weeks so there will be no new posts going up on the site in that time. A busy period of Chilean football. Not only will the Clausura be in full swing but Chile will play Colombia in the World Cup Qualifiers (hopefully a better result than Wednesday’s 3-0 defeat by Ecuador), the Copa Chile will continue towards the knock-out rounds while three sides will be in Copa Sudamericana – Cobreloa and Universidad Católica play a further knock-out round to join Universidad de Chile in the last-16. Also watch out for further developments in the transfer of Ángelo Henríquez to Manchester United.
The match had entered stoppage time. There were barely five minutes of stoppage time remaining. Universidad de Chile were trailing O’Higgins 3-2 on aggregate in the Apertura play-off final. The end of a glorious era was approaching a heartbreaking finale. This once in a generation team that had won the club its first ever continental title had run out of energy, verve and most importantly ingenuity.
The 101st game was going the same way as the 100th, 98th, 97th and 96th; disappointment and there seemed little Jorge Sampaoli or his players could do about it.
But then a sudden burst from substitute Roberto Cereceda down the right dissected O’Higgins and created space for a cross. On his weaker right foot he clipped the ball into the box. There he was, positioned just as he was in the first-leg, Guillermo Marino. The veteran Argentine may not possess the pace of Junior Fernándes or the explosiveness of Matías Rodríguez or boundless energy of Charles Aránguiz but what he does harness is a technical ability and composure that would not look out of place in some of the best teams in the world. As the ball was clipped to him time seemed to slow, the Estadio Nacional wanted just one more reason to rock but before that came the silence, the intake of breath. Many would panic and thrash at the ball; others would take a touch before being blocked, but not Marino. Where players would lose their heads Marino stalked the ball with his eyes. Marino and the ball, the only two objects that mattered. With his right foot he guided the cross back across goal and into the bottom corner, Luis Marín scraping his fingers against the ball.
Chile scrapped their way past a Bolivian side, who can feel pained not to have picked up at least a point, thanks to goals late in each half by Charles Aránguiz and Arturo Vidal, in what was the fifth qualifying match for Brazil 2014.
The outcome was exactly what La Roja were looking for after the two comprehensive away defeats previously to Argentina and Uruguay and lifts them into second place behind Argentina in the qualifying standings. However the means in achieving the victory were not what football fans across the globe have come to expect from Chile.
A more clinical opponent in a match officiated by a competent referee could easily have resulted in Chile’s third defeat of the World Cup qualifying, leaving an uphill task for Claudio ‘Bichi’ Borghi’s side. But with Arturo Vidal back in the heart of the midfield La Roja huffed and puffed, scrapped and fought and eventually won through thanks in no part to the determination affirmed by the two goals scored from midfield.
Juan Román Riquelme. The name synonymous with Argentine number 10’s. The name that flows of your tongue like a passing move orchestrated by Juan Román himself. The ultimate enganche. El Diez.
And JRR was at it again last night, providing another master class as Unión Española fell from the Copa Libertadores at the last-16 stage.
Despite a late Santiago Silva goal in the first-leg and trailing 2-1 there was hope for the exciting and expansive Española in front of a packed Estadio Santa Laura. That was until one of the great artists, his right foot a paintbrush, decided on having another performance not to be forgotten. Involved in every goal Riquelme led Boca to a 3-2 win setting up a quarter-final tie with either Fluminense or Internacional.
While having their chances, especially in the first-leg, La Furia Roja, led be José Luis Sierra, can exit the competition with their reputation enhanced, playing a thrilling 4-3-3 that saw victory claimed in Bolívar of all places.
Herrera celebrates Espanola's second (image: charlatecnica.cl)
Unión Española put an end to an 18-year maleficio (curse) by reaching the last-16 of the Copa Libertadores last night with a 2-1 win at home to Bolívar.
Española went into the game at the Estadio Santa Laura knowing they would progress from the group stage for the first time since 1994 with a game to spare if they collected all three points. And thanks to goals from Braulío Leal and Emmanuel Herrera they done exactly that; surprising many simply by qualifying.
The Bolivians started well as they disrupted the rhythm of La Furia Roja but they could not keep the Chileans at bay for too long, Leal, unmarked, flicking in a corner, which in itself was flicked on at the front post by Jorge Ampuero, from inside the six-yard box in the 18th minute.
Mauro Diaz evades the challenge of Luis Mena as Union Espanola prevail in a classic (image: unionespanola.cl)
A quiet week in Chile? No not really. So what is in store for Week 11. Unión Española and Colo Colo took part in arguably the game of the year so far and one of the best games anywhere The Red One has witnessed this season. High-tempo football? Check. Goals? Check. Unreliable defences? Check.
Elsewhere Cobreloa suffered a Nelson Acosta hangover in Santiago while Santiago Wanderers of Valparaíso were brought back down to Earth with a bump in Santiago, blue is colour in the top places of Apertura and there was varying degrees of success for new (and relatively new) managers.
Off the field there is a worrying situation developing at Colo Colo between certain players and fans while we look ahead to the first big Santiago derby and share some transfer news surrounding two of Chile’s most promising defenders.
Like Universidad de Chile the previous evening Universidad Católica left it late to clinch all three points against Chilean rivals Unión Española in what was a crucial win in their attempts at progression from Group 3 of the Copa Libertadores.
Substitute Daúd Gazale picked the perfect moment to score his first goal of the year, just when it looked like Española had done enough to secure a point that would have left Cató with an arduous task to recover in the last two group games.
The first half was a tepid affair played at a slow tempo; brightened temporarily by Roberto Ovelar’s 8th minute opener.
Felipe Gutiérrez picked up possession in acres of space in an inside left position half-way inside the away side’s half. Rather than driving into space he clipped a delicious ball across the box which was met by an even better diving header by Ovelar, steaming in between Fernando Cordero and Ampuero.
Loss, win, draw. Not the start to the Copa Libertadores campaign Universidad de Chile expected but in a tough group and with two away games out of the way after yesterday evening’s 1-1 draw in Uruguay with Peñarol La U are in a position of strength to reach the knock-out stages.
However Jorge Sampaoli felt that their position could have been even stronger if they made the most of their pressure in the second half. The home side may have felt slightly aggrieved at going into the break level as Junior Fernándes cancelled out Nicolás Freitas’ opener. Peñarol had visibly upset El Chuncho’s rhythm in the first half, penning the Chileans midfield in their own half and causing the backline an abundance of problems with their direct play in to ex-Juventus striker Marcelo Zalayeta. Sampaoli changed the flow of the game with the introduction of Gustavo Lorenzetti at half-time and Universidad de Chile looked the more likely team to collect all three points.
With the ‘Chile Five’ suspended and Mauricio Isla out injured for the rest of the season a relatively unfamiliar La Roja XI came from behind to draw 1-1 with a strong Ghana side in Philadelphia.
With six Universidad de Chile players selected there was a degree of understanding in the squad in terms of partnerships and style of play. Four La U players found starting berths as Osvaldo González and Jose Rojas lined up beside a former comrade in Marcos González in defence; changed days from the usual trio of Waldo Ponce, Gonzalo Jara and Pablo Contreras. Matías Fernandez played ahead of an in-form midfield duo of Marcelo Díaz and Gary Medel. Matías Campos Toro and Charles Aránguiz were stationed on the wing. There was no place for Napoli’s Eduardo Vargas as Humberto Suazo partnered Alexis Sánchez in attack.
The Black Stars went ahead four minutes before the break through first-half substitute Richard Mpong, sending the sodden Ghanaian fans into raptures; warming themselves up in the process if anything else. Sulley Muntari shrugged off the attentions of Gary Medel to give himself enough time to locate the run of Mpong with perfectly executed whipped pass around the backline on the wet surface. All Mpong had to do was run onto the ball and slide it past Claudio Bravo first time.
UC look on as they throw away a two goal lead (image: futbolred.com)
Universidad Católica failed to make it a clean sweep for Chilean sides in the Copa Libertadores this week, throwing away a two goal lead at home to Colombian’s Junior de Barranquilla.
Having seen Unión Española and Universidad de Chile chalk up excellent wins – against Bolívar and Godoy Cruz respectively – UC had the chance to make it a treble of wins which would have taken them on to four points and comfortbaly behind Española in Group 3. Despite an excellent start Cató faltered in the second half and could only claim a 2-2 in the end.
With an abundance of attacking quality in tow UC took the lead in the 19th minute. A low free-kick out on the left from Nicolás Trecco caused panic in the away defence and as the ball bobbled around Roberto Gutiérrez was quickest to react finishing from seven yards.