Thursday, February 25, 2016

Racing find form, Colo Colo win - Copa Libertadores

De Paul scores for Racing. (Photo: Conmebol)
Four games were scheduled in the Copa Libertadores last night and compared to previous games, there were no surprises. Still, they are worth talking about. 

Argentina's Racing Club started in the season in dreadful fashion. Despite making it through the first Libertadores qualifying round, they stand at two points from four Primera División matches. Last night, Bolívar was welcome prey and found themselves at the back end of a 4-1. 

The Bolivian champions of Apertura and Clausura were down 0-3 in about half an hour after goals from Lisandro López, Roger Martínez and Rodrigo de Paul decided the game early. Particularly the first one from López is worth taking a look as he controlled the ball nicely before lobbing it over goalkeeper Romel Quiñónez. 

Martínez followed that strike up with an outstanding solo run that will probably also go into the books as one of the best goals in 2016. Bolívar did not defend too well and were ripped open by Óscar Romero's passes over and over.

Racing did not seem to be willing to stop in the second half either and continued to find their form tonight. Chance after chance and finally Lisandro López low ball found Marcos Acuña who just had to tap it in. Bolívar scored a late consolation goal through Juan Arce, but they will need to improve to have any sort of chance to make it into the round of 16. Here are the match highlights:

Carlos Tévez in a battle with Miguel Godoy. (Photo: Conmebol)
In their Group 3, Argentinian rivals and double winners Boca Juniors entered the competition a few hours after as well. All they managed was a goalless draw away to Deportivo Cali. Early on, star striker Carlos Tévez was extremely lucky to not be sent off for a clear kick in the direction of an opposing player.

Harold Preciado had the biggest chance of the first half, when he hit the post with a shot from the edge of the area for the Colombians. Just overall, also in the second half, Cali were not precise enough and failed to hit the target on multiple glorious occasions. Tonight, they could have beaten Boca who were not good and they know it. It is still a performance to build on considering the strong group they are in.

Esteban Paredes celebrates his decisive goal. (Photo: El Gráfico Chile)
In Chile, Colo Colo had their first home game of the 2016 Copa Libertadores campaign. Following last week's draw with Independiente del Valle, they showed themselves much improved and dominated Melgar from start to finish. The bottom line was a 1-0 victory. 

The strike that turned out golden was Esteban Paredes'. In the 65th minute, he was first to a rebound from about 6m out. Beausejour had found Martín Rodríguez whose shot Daniel Ferreyra could only clear into the middle. Not a good idea when a man like Paredes is standing there waiting for it. He scored his 16th Copa Libertadores goal in just 21 matches. An unbelievable rate, even for a striker.

One more game was played in Colo Colo's Group 5, between Atlético Mineiro and the already mentioned Independiente del Valle. Lucas Pratto scored the only goal of the game only four minutes in. He turned a cross from the right into the back of the net, making goalkeeper Librado Azcona look really bad, as he should have made that save. 

Overall, it was a deserved win for the Brazilians who had more of the game and the larger amount of clear cut chances. Additionally, Robinho made his Copa Libertadores comeback in the 56th minute, coming on as a substitute. Atlético Mineiro now lead the group with 6 points, followed by Colo Colo (4), Independiente del Valle (1) and Melgar (0).


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