Friday, February 20, 2015

When Wanderers learn to fly

Once upon a time, a little group of Uruguayans started out from the small country to make history on the big continent. The task was a big one. In front of them stood Argentinians, Chileans and Venezuelans, threatening to overpower those that battled hard to be here.

That club are the Montevideo Wanderers and on Tuesday evening they started into the group stage, facing Zamora FC, Venezuelan champions of the past season. Wanderers sought the instant chance to make amends after dropping the first game of the new season back home in Uruguay 0-1 to El Tanque Sisley.

Now this one was just crazy. The game had all you wish for as a neutral, and since that’s what I am, I said “hell yeah”, leaned back and enjoyed the show. The drama started off with a red card for Zamora’s right back Ángel Mendoza in the 20th minute. They didn’t care much and proceeded to score the first goal five minutes later. John Murillo fired home a counter goal. Another five minutes passed until Wanderers were depleted too, as Adrian Colombino want sent to the shower as well. Gaston Rodriguez tied the game up in the last minute of the first half.

Zamora retook the lead via Flores’ beautiful strike in the 53rd, but lost a second player to a red card not far after. Luis Ovalle brought down substitute Reymundez in the area and received his second yellow of the evening. Nicolás Albarracin slotted the following penalty into the bottom right corner and we were tied again. At least for three minutes. Leandro Reymundez himself this time went up in the air and headed home a corner to turn the game on its head, 3-2 Wanderers.

You’re thinking this was it? Good one, but the referee had other plans. In added time he sent off two more players, one from each team after a coming together in the Uruguayans half, making it a total of five red cards. Combine that with the final score that remained 3-2 and you can imagine that this game was a treat to watch.


Wednesday saw the first appearance by Boca Juniors in this year’s competition. They went to the ones that beat Nacional in the qualification round, Palestino from Chile. If you expect another game that was all over the place, I have to disappoint you though. But once a week is enough for the heart, don’t you think?

I don’t know who keeps rescheduling these games on short notice, but I missed the first 15 minutes due to my calendar saying it was going to start an hour later. Either way, 0-0 still and all good. Some chances on both sides followed, but the game wasn’t really loaded with it. At least it had 4 yellow cards in 4 minutes? “Weak” you’d say if you also watched the previously described red card fest. It took until the 38th minute, when Andrés Chávez broke through the Chilean defense and scored the first goal of the game for Boca.

The second half started like the first one and was pretty even, Boca looked better technically, Palestino tried to find any holes in the Argentinian defense, which didn’t exist. That hole was found on the other side, when Lodeiro sliced open the back three once more, sending Sebastián Palacios in to score a second goal for the guests in the 69th. With that goal, the game was more or less decided. Palestino had the biggest chance to come within one 10 minutes from the end, a wide open header couldn’t be directed towards the goal. The game ended 2-0, it was not an undeserved win for Boca overall.


The holders San Lorenzo entered the competition on Thursday with a visit to Uruguay’s Danubio FC. Obviously they were also the favorite to win this game, in this tough group with the two sides from São Paulo there is pressure from week 1. I guess the hosts thought the same and went ahead themselves in the 11th minute when Matías Castro fought off the complete Argentinian defense to put the ball into the back of the net.

Despite the early disadvantage, San Lorenzo was in fact the better team, had more chances, it just would not pay off. At least until the last few minutes. Mauro Matos (86’) and Mauro Cetto (88’) turned the game around in an exciting finale and for a successful start for the defending champions.


Here are all the results of the first matchweek sorted in their respective groups:

1 Atlas Guadalajara vs Santa Fe 0-1; Colo-Colo vs Atlético Mineiro 2-0

2 Corinthians vs São Paulo FC 2-0; Danubio FC vs San Lorenzo 1-2         

4 Universidad de Chile vs Emelec 0-1; The Strongest vs Internacional 3-1            

5 Montevideo Wanderers vs Zamora 3-2; CD Palestino vs Boca Juniors 0-2        

6 UANL Tigres vs Juan Aurich 3-0; Club San José vs River Plate 2-0    

7 Libertad vs Atlético Nacional 2-2      

8 Deportivo Táchira vs Racing Club 0-5; Guaraní vs Sporting Cristal 2-2      


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