Copa Santander Libertadores.....Preliminary Round review.
The 50th Edition of the Copa Libertadores started way back at the end of January with 6 preliminary round ties over two legs with the winners advancing to the 26 pre-qualified teams in the group stages. Independiente Medellín of Colombia breezed past Peñarol of Uruguay after a 4-0 win in Medellín before a scoreless second leg in Montevideo.
Argentina's Estudiantes scraped by Peru's Sporting Cristal on the away goals rule. After taking the lead in Lima through Enzo Perez, Estudiantes were penned back by second half strikes from Roberto Palacios and Héctor Hurtado to give the Peruvians a 2-1 lead to take back to La Plata. Desperate to hang on, Sporting held out until 14 minutes from time before a strike from Ramón Lentini secured progress for Estudiantes by the narrowest of margins.
Club Nacional of Paraguay secured their progress to the group stage with an 8-3 aggregate win over Club Deportivo El Nacional of Ecuador. A 5-0 win for Club Nacional in Ecuador gave El Nacional a huge mountain to climb in Paraguay. El Nacional then found themselves 3 down within 28 minutes of the second leg in Asunción before scoring 3 times in 9 minutes before half time to level the game up. The comeback ended there as the second leg scoreline remained at 3-3 and Club Nacional progressed on.
Venezuelan side Deportivo Anzoátegui thought they had the tie in the bag against Deportivo Cuenca of Ecuador after a 2-0 home victory in their first leg. Anzoátegui though couldn't handle the conditions in the 2500 meter altitude of Cuenca in the second leg. Two goals from Rodrigo Teixiera levelled the tie before Ismael Villalba got the winner with 16 minutes to go to see Cuenca into the group stages.
Brazil's Palmeiras had little trouble in disposing of Real Potosí 7-1 on aggregate. After taking an early 2-0 at the Palestra Itália in the first leg, Edemir Rodríguez gave the visitors hope with a vital away goal. It stunned the hosts into action as they cruised to a 5-1 victory. Palmeiras then finished the job off in Bolivia with a 2-0 second leg victory with goals from Cleiton Xavier and Keirrison getting his third of the tie.
Mexican invitee Pachuca also exited on the away goals rule after finishing level with Universidad de Chile after the two legs. A 4th minute Marcelo Díaz strike gave Universidad de Chile a slender lead to take to Mexico. Gerardo Rodríguez levelled the tie from the spot in the first half of the second leg before Marco Estrada got the precious away goal for the Chileans. Damian Álvarez levelled the tie on aggregate with 4 minutes to go but it was all in vain as Universidad de Chile hung on to sneak through on the away goals rule.
Next up.....a look at the Group Stages so far with 5 of the 6 matchdays completed and a run down of who is and who isn't going to the last 16 and the knockout stages.