• Friday, 11 May 2012

    Copa Libertadores - round of 16

    We've highlighted previously the importance of home advantage in the Copa Libertadores. With the potential for vast distances between clubs and the extreme altitude in many parts mean that a failure to grasp those factors that lie in your favour often spell doom.

    La Paz and Quito are two cities that lend themselves to this. Bolívar, of the former, and Deportivo Quito both had home games in the first leg of the round of 16 against fancied runners. Bolívar won 2-1 against Santos, Jhasmani Campos with the winner after Maranhão had equalised an early Rafael own goal. Would that away goal prove crucial? Depor, meanwhile, thumped the quite excellent Universidad de Chile to the tune of 4-1, Gustavo Alustiza bagging two of them. Surely the away goal here was even less relevant?

    It became irrelevant, but not in that way. Depor and Bolívar were both brought down to earth at sea level, and in emphatic style. Santos were back on terms with Bolívar within six minutes, Elano with the goal, and more followed at regular intervals. A Neymar penalty was quickly followed by strikes from Ganso and Alan Kardec and it was five by half-time as Juan Valverde turned one into his own net. After the break, Elano and Ganso both got seconds and Borges wrapped up an astonishing 8-0 win sending Santos through 9-2 on aggregate. In Santiago, Universidad weren't as quick oout of the blocks, but by half-time had drawn the tie level, La U ahead by that away goal. In the space of fifteen first-half minutes, Juan Fernandez had nipped in for two and Marcelo Diaz made it 3-0. After the break, Eugenio Mena gave La U a bit of breathing space before a late brace from Ángelo Henríquez completed a 6-0 rout and a 7-4 aggregate win.

    Emelec had failed to make the mnost of their home leg against Corinthians with a 0-0 draw. In the return, the Brazilians were comfortable 3-0 winners. Unión Española also flopped at home, losing 3-2 to Boca Juniors after being beaten 2-1 in La Bombonera. It was the same story for Atlético Nacional who lost 1-0 at home to Vélez Sarsfield before a draw in Buenos Aries saw Vélez through. In the all-Brazilian tie, Inter and Flu drew 0-0 in the first leg before Flu won at home 2-1 after going a goal down early on. Leandro Damião put Inter in front, but Leandro Euzébio equalised moments later. Fred's goal late in the first half proved enough for Flu. Libertad had the longest trip, all the way up to Mexico and Cruz Azul, but they returned from there with a 1-1 draw. Back in Ascunción, they completed a 2-0 win to progress.

    In the final tie, both Lanús and Vasco da Gama won at home. Both won 2-1, Tefilo Gutierrez's late goal in the second leg sending the tie to extra time and, ultimately, penalties. There, Lanús striker Silvio Roméro was the only one to miss, crashing his 12-yarder off the bar, and Vasco progress.

    So to the quarter-finals then which get underway next Tuesday. It's a Brazil-dominated affair, half the sides coming from the continent's largest country. There are two Argentine sides while the only sides from outside those two countries meet each other. Here's how they line up:

    Fluminense x Boca Juniors
    Corinthians x Vasco da Gama
    Universidad de Chile x Libertad
    Santos x Vélez Sarsfield

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