Turning it round

League champions Lanús booked their place in the Copa Libertadores group stage on Tuesday night, winning in style against Ecuadorian champs Olmedo to overturn a 1-0 first leg defeat. In the first half, they looked edgy, creating chances but – as in Riobamba last week – not managing to finish them off. In the second, however, memories of the attacking verve of the Apertura were rekindled, as the hosts ran out 3-0 victors.

Matías Fritzler was the man who finally settled the nerves of the home fans, opening the scoring and levelling the aggregate scoreline 13 minutes after half time, easily beating his marker at a corner to head in. It was the moment which turned the tie. In the first half, Lanús had pressured fruitlessly, the visiting defence holding strong and Olmedo making inroads, at times, into the opposing half, albeit without much precision or finesse in their passing.

Diego Valeri’s passes, though reaching their targets, couldn’t quite spring any defensive traps, and José Sand wasn’t having much luck in the area. Fritzler himself, heading from the ‘D’ on the edge of the penalty box, hit the post, but that was as close as Lanús got before the break. Fritzler’s goal, though, forced Olmedo to come out looking for one of their own, and suddenly the pitch opened up for the Argentine champions, most of all in the wide areas.

Sebastián Blanco had already hit the crossbar when Valeri stopped the ball in the area and cut it back for the onrushing substitute, Santiago Biglieri, who hit it hard and got a little help with a deflection, to make it 2-0. Maxi Velázquez added the icing to the cake late on, with a superb free kick which cannoned in off the post.

With this result, Lanús qualify for Group 2 of the Copa, which includes fellow Argentines Estudiantes, as well as Deportivo Cuenca of Ecuador and Uruguayans Danubio.


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