Clausura Final: Universidad de Chile complete treble with 3-0 aggregate win over Cobreloa

The finale to a glorious year (IMG: ANFP)

When the clock ticked down to midnight on the 31st December there would have been much reminiscing in Santiago from Azul Azul fans after Universidad de Chile completed an unprecedented Apertura, Clausura and Copa Sudamericana treble with a thumping 3-0 second-leg win over Cobreloa in the Estadio Nacional on the 29th after a goal-less first-leg on Boxing Day.

In 2011 Chilean football may have witnessed a team that will go down as one of the best and most successful in the country’s history. A look at how they arrived at three trophies in a year and countless records broken can be read in more detail here.

Over the two-legged final La U showed their dominance in the end after what can only be described as an edgy and gritty first-leg in Calama. There was little in the way of goal mouth action. However there was controversy as Cobreloa had a goal controversially ruled out. Nicolás Trecco’s flicked header from a corner was met by Diego Barrios who saw his own header come down off the bar prompting a scramble on the La U line between Jhonny Herrera and Cobreloa defender Sebastián Roco. Herrera managed to trap the ball under his legs but it was knocked free and Barrios bundled the ball behind the line. The referee, Eduardo Gamboa, adjudged Herrera to have had the ball under his control.

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Clausura Play-off Semi-final Second-legs: La U lose their unbeaten run but do enough to face Cobreloa – who left it late to qualify – in the final

Vargas sees red but La U reach the final (IMG:ANFP)

Cobreloa 1-2 Colo Colo (Agg 4-4)

Attacking and defending. The good teams can do one. The great teams can do both. This present Colo Colo side fall into the former. A valiant effort in a fascinating and high-paced encounter was not enough to edge past a Cobreloa side coached by the gregarious ex-Chile manager Nelson Acosta.

Colo Colo had to win by two clear goals due to Cobreloa’s higher placed finish in the league and wasted no time racing into a two goal lead. But eventually defensive failings would re-surface even as Cobreloa went down to ten men.

Los Albos got off to a great start after 15 minutes when Esteban Paredes brought down a long ball played out of defence while turning Cobreloa defender Cristian Suárez all in one movement before slipping in Muñoz in his second movement. The striker hit into the ground and across goalkeeper Nicolás Peric, setting up a wonderful evening of football.

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Clausura Semi-final Play-off first-leg: Away sides in control

Trecco lets fly (IMG: ANFP)

Two tight semi-final affairs, with goals aplenty, see the two sides who finished first and second in the Clausura table take one goal leads (effectively two due to Clausura positioning) into the second-legs to be played midweek.

Colo Colo 2 v 3 Cobreloa

In the first of the semi-finals Colo Colo entertained Cobreloa in what was a topsy turvy encounter full of incident as Ivo Basay’s Los Albos struggle to achieve the consistency required to challenge rivals Universidad de Chile and make a case for winning the Clausura and a place in next years Copa Liberatadores. Cobreloa on the other hand showed, with players of the quality of Nicolás Trecco in tow, why they finished second, behind La U in the Clausura table.

Clausura defender Sebastián Rocco had a goal rightly chalked off before Colo Colo took the lead just shy of the 20th minute mark. Quick thinking from Jose Pedro Fuenzalida from a corner saw the midfielder exchange passes on the edge of the box before curling the return beautifully into the far top corner.

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Clausura Play-off Quarter-final second-leg’s: Santiago giants ease through and are joined by Cobreloa who squeezed through

Kevin Harbottle (right) IMG: ANFP

The closing stages of the Primera División are well and truly underway as four teams were eliminated over the weekend, setting up a Clásico Universitario semi-final and potential ‘El Clásico’ final, while Cobreloa – the only non-Santiago team in the last four – will be happy to just be there after an almighty scare at home to Unión La Calera, leaving it late to confirm their place.

Universidad de Chile won. Again. Colo Colo took care of an elementary second-leg and Audax Italiano floundered when it mattered.

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Clausura Play-Off’s Kick-Off – Advantage Favourites

Paredes equalises (IMG: ANFP)

In an explosive opening to the Clausura play-offs three of the four games went the way of the positional seeding with three away wins. The only home win coming from Universidad Católica who, despite finishing below Audax Italiano, were arguably favourites to win through to the semi-finals. It is looking likely that three of the four semi-final places will be taken by the three Santiago Giants.

Saturday saw a glut of goals as 12 were scored in the two games while on Sunday the two encounters were tight and tentative, both away teams winning a goal to nil.

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Clausura Play-off Preview – Part One

With the Clausura play-offs kicking off tonight we look at the four match-ups. Here are the first two:

Deportes La Serena v Colo Colo

Key Men: Mathias Vidangossy (La Serena) Esteban Paredes (Colo Colo)

Form: La Serena – LWLWW Colo Colo – WDLDW

Last Meeting: La Serena 4-0 Colo Colo

The play-offs kick off on Saturday (today) when La Serena entertain Ivo Basay’s Colo Colo at La Portada with the Santiago giants looking to make amends for their humiliating 4-0 loss at the beginning of October. Los Albos haven’t won a title since the 2009 Clausura and despite making plans for next season already will want to be the team to stop Universidad de Chile’s long unbeaten run. They have goals in the side with Esteban Paredes, Carlos Muñoz and Mauro Olivi while Boris Rieloff provides penetration from left-back in a system which is loosely 4-2-2-2.

La Serena missed out on the Apertura Clausura by three points but were in little danger of missing out on the Clausura end of season party. A run of two defeats in 12 propelled them to a confident position. Veterans Gamadiel Garcia and Mauricio Salazar link with the impressive Mathías Vidangossy, who has been mooted with a move to Colo Colo, to supply Juan Sánchez Sotelo. La Serena play in the open but colourful La Portada which is due for an upgrade.

Universidad Católica v Audax Italiano

Key Men: Milovan Mirosevic (UC) Matías Campos Toro (Audax)

Form: UC – WDWWD Audax – DLWLW

Last Meeting: Audax Italiano 0-0 Universidad Católica

UC have had an unpredictable yet interesting Clausura season. Yet it all started at the end of the Apertura. Having won the first-leg of the Apertura play-off final away to Universidad de Chile 2-0 they contrived to lose the second-leg 4-1. It did not look to affect them as they stormed through the Copa Chile and were unbeaten in five of the first six Clausura matches. But then their season seemed to uncoil as they lost their next four and were knocked out of the Copa Sudamericana, leaving them on the outside of the play-off places looking in. But a late season rally, including a Copa Chile win on penalties against Primera B side Magallanes, pushed them into 5th place. There are still question marks over Mario Lepe’s pragmatic play especially with the attacking talent at their disposal yet they are arguably Universidad de Chile’s biggest threat. Francisco Silva pulls the strings at the base of the midfield while Milovan Mirosevic, Fernando Meneses, Matías Mier and Felipe Gutiérrez inject spark into the attack that includes the wily but still not old César Carignano and Francisco Pizarro. Also keep an eye out for livewire Kevin Harbottle.

Audax Italiano are another Chilean team top heavy with talent and play a fluid 3-4-1-2. They have a number of options in the final third which makes them one of the most interesting teams to watch; Facundo Pereyra is the league’s second top goal scorer while Felipe Mora, Cristian Canhué and Bryan Carrasco add invention and guile. At the back they the promising curly-haired Lucas Dominguez and are captained by national team rising star Matías Campos Toro who covers the whole left-wing and adds a verifiable goal threat. Late season inconsistency will have cost them a Copa Liberatadores place if Universidad de Chile win the Clausura.