Universidad de Chile returned from their latest Copa Libertadores trip in much better fettle than they did from their last trip where they fell 4-1 to Deportivo Quito in Ecuador, before winning the second-leg 6-0.
However the opening period did not go to plan as Libertad, time and again, got in begin Los Azules’ defence; Osvaldo González in particular struggled to adapt to the pressure put on him and the space around him. The opening goal from Paraguayan international Victor Cáceres came from the space down La U’s right flank.
The home side’s pace and pressing led to a number of counter-attacks. But La U survived and gradually imposed themselves; Ángelo Henríquez coming closest to forcing an equaliser before half-time.
The Chileans influence grew in the second half and they equalised through Gustavo Lorenzetti’s deflected strike before the game slowed down and settled into a stop-start contest. Universidad de Chile’s substitute Emilio Hernández was sent off towards the end.
Marcelo Diaz: La U’s heartbeat (image: El Grafico)
In Europe’s Champions League overturning a three goal deficit in the knock-out stages is seen as unlikely. But in South America’s equivalent, the Copa Libertadores, things are little crazier, a little more hectic and a little more manic. Due to the vast distances teams have to travel and the differing altitudes games are played at the home teams are often handed an advantage. Overturning a three goal difference in South America is seen as entirely possible.
Universidad de Chile travelled to Ecuador two weeks ago this Thursday to play Deportivo Quito in a city – second to La Paz – infamous for its altitude; some 9,200ft above sea level.
La U had dealt with Quito’s altitude before. Only in December past did they win against LDU Quito. And then you factor in their young, fit, dynamic and talented squad as well as Chilean teams adaptability at playing at altitude.
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.