They decided to leave it until they were already out of the competition, but Arsenal de Sarandí have finally experienced what it’s like to play a decent side in the Copa Libertadores and not get embarrassed. Having beaten a surprisingly poor Libertad on the opening day, they then lost at home to LDU Quito as well as getting royally thumped by Fluminense in the Maracana and Quito in Ecuador, but on Wednesday night in a virtual reserve team game, they salvaged a bit of pride.
The match wasn’t exactly a thriller, with Arsenal already eliminated and Flu already safely into the knockout stage, and both sides sent almost entirely reserve sides out onto the pitch. The first half was forgettable, with most of the colour provided by the 150 Brazilian fans who’d travelled down from Rio and who contrived to out-sing the home majority, so few were the Arsenal fans who actually bothered to turn up. Improving in the second half, Arsenal scored around the hour, Leonardo Biagini turning in a ball that had been played across the goal and back again to put the hosts into the lead. Young forward Juan E. Bottaro pounced on an error from visiting midfielder Ygor, and coolly tucked away the one-on-one with goalkeeper Fernando Henrique. With just over 15 minutes remaining, Flu’s free kick specialist Thiago Neves, author of two goals when the sides met in the Maracana, was sent off and their chances of winning a game they weren’t at all bothered about anyway disappeared.
It’s Arsenal’s first win since the 29th of February, which surely will help morale a little, but in the Copa at least, it changes nothing – they’re still out. Now, it’s time to get their heads down and make sure they qualify for the Copa Sudamericana to defend that title next season.
Arsenal Foot-Ball Club 2 – 0 Fluminense