Universidad Católica 1-1 São Paulo – Lasarte second half changes keep UC in the tie

This time last year everyone knew who Universidad de Chile were, even those who did not follow South American football. 12 months on and Universidad Católica are 90 minutes, and one fine performance, away from reaching the Copa Sudamericana final. But, unlike their Santiago rivals, they have done so under the radar.

São Paulo are all that stand in the way of Católica making the final, with all to play for after a 1-1 draw in the semi-final first-leg.

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Universidad Católica 2-1 Independiente (Agg 4-3) – UC continue to improve with a simple but effective system

Rios sends UC skyward

Universidad Católica reached the semi-final stage of the Copa Sudamericana for the first time in seven years with a thoroughly deserved two-legged victory over the ‘King of Cups’ Independiente; a result that may just trigger a steep upturn in the fortunes of Los Cruzados.

Only two weeks ago Martín Lasarte was receiving criticism from his own fans as UC hang perilously close to dropping out of the play-off spots in the Clausura. However salvation has come in the Sudamericana, and with each positive result in the competition the more they are looking a settled and confident outfit.

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Copa Sudamericana Catch-up – La U and UC find themselves in very different situations

La U and UC look to set up a Clasico Universitario semi-final

The Copa Sudamericana quarter-final second-leg’s kick-off tonight as Universidad de Chile travel to Brazil in an attempt to overturn a 2-0 first-leg loss to Sao Paulo. So what exactly happened in the first-leg’s? Better late than never, I will quickly run through some of the taking points with the addition of highlights of each match and a brief preview on this week’s games.

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Chile duo reach the quarter-finals of the Copa Sudamericana

Santiago is the only city in South America with two representatives in the quarter-finals of the Copa Sudamericana after Universidad Católica and Universidad de Chile both came through tight two-legged affairs.

Both teams’ progression means that there is still the possibility of the clubs meeting in the semi-final. But before then they need to come through tough ties against illustrious clubs from Argentina and Brazil.

UC and La U went into their games on the back of disappointments in the league; UC were beaten 2-0 at home to Huachipato while Los Azules lost el superclásico to arch-rivals Colo Colo.

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Universidad de Chile 2-2 Emelec – Observations plus Católica’s victory

Enzo Gutierrez celebrates

While the Copa Sudamericana began back in late August Universidad de Chile had to wait until Tuesday evening (CLST) before they could begin the defence of the title they won in thrilling fashion last year. In that time three Chilean sides – Cobreloa, Deportes Iquique and O’Higgins – fell by the way side which left Universidad Católica as the sole Chilean survivor of the first two rounds (La U entering at the last-16 stage as holders).

Universidad de Chile had not won on the continental or international stage since their obliteration of Deportivo Quito at the quarter-final stage of the Copa Libertadores in May. Since that 6-0 thrashing of the Ecuadorians La U have played 7 games, drawn 4 and lost 3 – one of which was on penalties.

And it was Ecuadorian opposition again for Los Azules in the shape of Emelec from the city of Guayaquil. But if you were looking for symmetry as La U ended their winless run then you will be disappointed.

La U lacked the fluidity, tempo and aggression that brought them success in last year’s edition of the Copa Sudamericana, falling behind to a fine Luciano Figueroa finish before Enzo Gutiérrez equalised. Marlon de Jesús put Emelec back in front as the game headed for the recess but Sebastián Ubilla restored parity moments after the break. La U could not kick on and find the winner which would have given them a slender advantage going into the return leg.

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Week 12 Round-up: Colo Colo are hot on the heels of an unfamiliar front three

Munoz continued his fine goal scoring form (not a picture from Sunday)

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:

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Week 11 Round-up: We’re Back!!!

The Red One finally returns after a six week hiatus. And what a weekend to return to!

Flores celebrates his goal

There were goals aplenty on Friday, Saturday and Sunday; two 2-2s, a 3-2 and a 4-3 as only two of the 18 teams failed to score.

Deportes Iquique made it six wins from six to lead the Clausura ahead of Rangers and Universidad de Chile – both teams recovering from two goals down to record draws late on.

The Sunday game between Cobreloa and Universidad Católica can only be described as manic with the return of horrendous defending led by Enzo Andía. Cato faces an in-form Colo Colo this weekend in the first clásico of the Clausura. Los Albos swept past Unión Española in the final game of week 11.

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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.

Future Kings of Chilean Football

The future King of Chilean football?

South America is a haven for football scouts from all across Europe and further afield. Cast your gaze across European football’s landscape and most clubs posses a South American playing a prominent role in their team. Barcelona and Lionel Messi, Manchester City and Sergio Agüero, Napoli and Edison Cavani AC Milan and Thiago Silva to name but a few.

And one South American nation, more than most, are making extra room for scouts as interest in their players increase. But it is not the traditional giants of Brazil and Argentina or even Uruguay who have achieved so much with such a sparse population. It is Chile. The land of Marcelo Salas and Ivan Zamarano, the Andes and Atacama, Colo Colo and Universidad de Chile.

It is a breeding ground of talented – and temperamental – footballers. The success of the Chilean national team in the last few years and more recently Universidad de Chile has brought attention to the world’s longest country. And within it there are a number of talented footballers waiting to break-out and join Mauricio Isla, Mauricio Pinilla, Alexis Sánchez, Arturo Vidal, Jean Beausejour, Sebastián Pinto and more in the epicentre of football.

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Bolívar 3-0 Universidad Católica/Junior 2-1 Unión Española – Cato slump out while Española await Argentine giants

Cato players left dejected (image: yahoo)

History could not be made for Chilean teams in the Copa Libertadores as Universidad Católica slumped out of the group stage, finishing in last place to leave Universidad de Chile and Unión Española to flying the flag for Chile.

Cato travelled to Bolivia needing a victory over Bolívar to finish second behind fellow Chileans Unión Española in group three. However they were up against a Bolivian side who themselves were trying to become the first Bolivian side to reach the knock-out stages since 2000. And in the end were beaten by the better side.

Disaster struck for Católica with little under two minutes on the clock as they fell asleep at a short corner routine, allowing Rudy Cardozo to steal into the box and at the second attempt hook a shot across the six-yard box where the ball bounced off Pablo Frontini, eventually being bundled into his own net by the unfortunate Enzo Andía.

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