Wednesday, February 24, 2016

LDU Quito surprise San Lorenzo; Huracán lose - Copa Libertadores

South American football is wonderful and full of surprises. Yesterday evening, we saw just that unfold again. It was no good night for Argentine teams. 

Diego Morales, scorer of two goals against San Lorenzo. (Photo: Twitter Conmebol)
San Lorenzo, winners of the 2014 Copa Libertadores, had travelled to Ecuador's capital to take on LDU Quito. They went home empty-handed after a surprising outsider win. 2-0 was the final result, with both goals being scored by Diego Morales. Of course, you could say, he's from Argentina himself. 

If you saw the game, you were not particularly surprised anymore though. LDU Quito were heavily superior to their opponents, reflected by the final shot statistic. 19-5 home team. 

The reason it ended 2-0 in the only statistic that matters were two fantastic goals from offensive midfielder Morales. In the 50th minute, he curved around half of San Lorenzo's defense, or what they call defense anyway, to finish into the top right corner. An absolute beauty from him, but not the only one.

In added time, he would outmuscle the whole defense yet again and finally buried it into the bottom left this time around. It was Diego Morales first Copa Libertadores game aged 29. Certainly, he could not have imagined it to go any better for himself and his team.

San Lorenzo had their best phase when Pablo Barrientos and Nicolás Blandi came on after 68 minutes, but could not make it count. In fairness, Quito were back in control quickly. In Group 6, LDU Quito have taken the lead along with Toluca after their respective 2-0 victories. Grêmio and San Lorenzo find themselves at the back with zero points.

Reason to celebrate: Atlético Nacional got their first 3 points. (Photo: Twitter Conmebol)
For the first time since their tragic bus accident on their way back from Venezuela, Huracán were playing a competitive match. Back in the Copa Libertadores, El Globo lost at home against Colombia's Atlético Nacional.

There was no potential nervousness to be seen from the home team early on. Huracán had the only few chances during the first half, but could not threaten Franco Armani's goal decisively. In the 44th minute that came back to bite them. Marlos Moreno received the ball from Andrés Ibarguen, had some trouble controlling it, but eventually had an open shot lane. He made the most out of it and gave the Colombians the lead.

People often talk about a psychologically important time to score a goal and apparently this was one of those cases. When they came back out onto the pitch for the second half, Huracán seemed to have completely lost it. They generated zero pressure and were pressed into their own half as attack after attack rolled over their defense.

Atlético Nacional scored their highly deserved second goal in the 82nd minute, when Orlando Berrío used his speed advantage against the goalkeeper, went around him and tapped the ball into the empty net.

Ten minutes earlier, Huracán were down to ten men after your typical (and needless) South American red card tackle. Federico Mancinelli was the "lucky one" today.

In this form, Atlético Nacional are a team to be reckoned with moving forward. Their group, which includes Peñarol and Sporting Cristal (they drew last week), seems absolutely manageable. Let's see if a Colombian team can write some history this season.


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