Argentine champions Lanús played their first competitive match of 2008 on Thursday night, away in Ecuadorian city of Riobamba, home of that country’s domestic champions, Olmedo. Nearly 2,800 metres above sea level, the Granate struggled, and lost 1-0.
Lanús started with a side chosen with the altitude in mind, and set up to attack without taking too many risks. The first real chance fell for Lanús, as Maxi Velázquez forced a superb save from Olmedo ‘keeper Edwin Villafuerte from a free kick. Lanús played mainly with the aim of conserving possession of the ball, and thereby their own fitness levels, but Olmedo still found their way through on ocassion, most notably in the 37th minute when Diego Valeri got back to clear off the line after Maximiliano Antonelli’s header didn’t quite have the power to get there.
In the second half Carlos Bossio shone in Lanús’s goal early on, repelling no fewer than three good chances for Olmedo, but thereafter Lanús once more started to create good chances, Diego Valeri in particular excelling, but found themselves unable to apply the finishing touch. They were punished in the worst possible fashion midway through the half, Estuardo Quiñónez cutting in from the right and sending a fierce left-footed shot past Bossio, which the goalie never stood a chance of reaching.
It was a blow for Lanús, whose subsequent attempts at parity foundered as their fitness began to ebb, but they’ll be hopeful for the return next Tuesday, when they’ll have the home advantage, and, having already played well but been short on luck tonight, only need to overturn the slimmest of first leg leads.