Friday, May 15, 2015

Racing across the finish line – Argentinians win it

Racing Club hosted the Montevideo Wanderers in tonight’s early Copa Libertadores kickoff. After a 1-1 in the first leg, a goalless draw would be enough for the Argentinians, but as you know, relying on that never works, so it was interesting to see what kind of game would develop.

The atmosphere was already on quarter final level. None of the teams seemed to be willing to waste much time defending. If you remember my article on the first leg, you will remember a strong defensive performance from the Uruguayans, which will be required again incase they want to advance against the super attack of Diego Milito and Gustavo Bou. The first real chance in the 15th minute fell to the visitors, but a header on goal was saved comfortably. So far so good, but then they lost their defensive order right after when leaving Washington Camacho wide open on the edge of the penalty area after a low Milito cross from the right and the Racing midfielder made no mistakes and slotted it home. The early lead the Argentinians had hoped for.

The lone survivor from Uruguay now needed one goal to at least get to extra time, luckily 70 minutes to do it were left. Despite that opening marker from Racing, it remained a pretty even game, no team really took over, a few half chances fell off. Gustavo Bou came close again in the 29th, firing a shot just wide. Both strikers were alive and that was definitely not a good sign for the outsiders.


Diego Milito tries his luck with a shot from inside the area in the first half which gets blocked away by the Uruguayan defense.

Like I knew it? Bou! In the 40th minute Racing’s number 7 makes it 2-0 with an ice cold finish into the near corner after a short dribbling in the area. Things get really tricky for Montevideo’s side, that now had 15 minutes of halftime to regroup and find a way to score two goals on a rock solid Racing Club.

Want a halftime fun fact? Here you go: Gustavo Bou played 8 games in the Copa this season, scored 8 goals and assisted on 4. What a season for the 25 year old so far.

Right back to the action we go. Would the Wanderers find a way to pull themselves out of the hole? If you take the first few minutes of the second half to judge on that, the sky looks pretty dark for the visitors. It would be typical if they now went down the field to punish me for writing this, and they do and they…do not score, phew.

An hour had been played and the whole stadium was bouncing up and down, as one of Argentina’s most famous sides was on its way to earn a quarter final berth. Meanwhile, Wanderers had some freekicks around the area, did not get any good chances out of them though. Those seemed to fall to Racing entirely today, as Bou had the opportunity to put the game to bed, but his lob missed the goal on the left. 68 minutes played, Diego Milito was done and the savior from the first leg, Brian Fernandez, came on. His first touch was a shot two meters wide after the Uruguayans carelessly gave the ball away.

With under 20 minutes left, Racing had the game under control, today it was them doing a very solid job defensively. At least we still got some danger from the hosts. Bou crossed from the right and a shot from Fernandez was saved spectacularly by goalkeeper Leonardo Burian. On the other side, Verges tested Saja, but his shot was saved without much of a problem.

86th, exit Gustavo Bou, he played yet another great game and received his more than deserved standing ovations.

But wait a minute, freekick for the Wanderers from about 25m out. Captain Maximiliano Oliveira takes the responsibility and puts it wonderfully into the top right corner. Sudden excitement out of nowhere! 3 minutes of added time to get the second goal that would suddenly put them into the next round.

Too little, too late. The game finished 2-1 and with the Montevideo Wanderers the last Uruguayan team have exited the competition. Racing Club will meet Paraguay’s Guaraní in the next round.


Notes from around the Copa:

Guaraní have pulled off the surprise that not many would have thought was possible and kicked out strong favorites Corinthians 3-0 on aggregate. They won the second leg in Brazil 1-0 with their opponents losing their cool. Two red cards made a comeback for Corinthians impossible. As previously mentioned, they will face Racing in the quarter final.

Not enough surprises for you? Maybe this one: Santa Fe have knocked out Argentina’s Estudiantes. Despite a 2-1 away loss in the first legs, the Colombians fought back and were rewarded taking the second leg 2-0.

Santa Fe will face Internacional in the quarter finals, because they won their all Brazilian duel against Atlético Mineiro 3-1 (5-3 agg.). Goals from Valdivia, D’Alessandro and Lisandro Lopez were too much to handle.

The other all Brazilian affair needed penalties after Cruzeiro equalized the 0-1 deficit from the first leg against São Paulo. Cruzeiro were the luckier side and advanced to the next round and plays the winner of the Superclásico.

The first legs of the quarter finals will be played next week, with the return legs the week after.


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