Lanús are the best team in Argentina, don’t you know. In case anyone wondered about their ability to challenge for honours again this year, they reminded us of that fact on Thursday night by claiming Argentina’s first win in four attempts of the 2008 Copa Libertadores. The visitors to El Sur were Uruguayan quasi-giants Danubio, a side with a lot of experience in this competition, but who nonetheless were brushed aside by Ramón Cabrero’s boys.
Following the defeats of San Lorenzo, Estudiantes and River Plate earlier in the week, Lanús gave Argentina a little bit of pride back with a comfortable 3-1 win. OK, so it was at home and the others all played away, but Danbubio, appearing in their sixth Libertadores (third in four seasons), were brushed aside by an impressive attacking display which picked up where the weekend’s unflattering 1-0 win over Independiente had left off.
Agustín Pelletieri opened the scoring for Lanús after just eight minutes, capitalising when visiting goalkeeper Esteban Conde came for and dropped a cross from full back Nelson Benítez. From that point on Lanús didn’t score again before the break, but they could easily have had a bucketload with more assured finishing, as Danubio’s defence, playing high up the pitch, kept trying to play the offside trap, and kept failing in their intentions. José Sand had perhaps the best opportunity, a right-footed attempt from right on the penalty spot, but couldn’t capitalise. Eight minutes before the break, the hosts were punished as a needless foul just outside the box gave Danubio a free kick, which Leonardo Abelenda dispatched into the top corner to level the scores.
In the second half Lanús settled down a little and calmed their game, whilst Danubio began to come tentatively forward. Both sides had chances, goalkeepers Carlos Bossio for Lanús and Conde both having work to do, but it was Lautaro Acosta who put Lanús back into the lead just before the hour, slotting home after Sand had won the ball from a Danubio defender and squared it to him.
By this point Lanús were visibly tiring, but their quality on the ball continued to show as they soaked up Danubio’s attacks and had good goes at countering. These finally came to fruition, and the game was put beyond doubt in the 87th minute as Sand made up for his first half miss, collecting a pass from Pelletieri and driving it low and right-footed across the goal to seal the win. Argentina finally has a victor in the Copa Libertadores – fittingly, it’s the reigning domestic champions who’ve broken the hoodoo.