Copa Sudamericana: Estudiantes through on penalties

Estudiantes hosted Independiente in the second leg of their Copa Sudamericana first round tie on Wednesday night and overturned a 2-1 loss from the first match to win through 5-4 on penalties after a 2-1 victory on the night gave them a 3-3 aggregate draw.

Independiente played poorly in the first half, experimenting with defender Carlos Matheu on the right of midfield to beef up the defence on that side, as Claudio Borghi sent out a team set up to hang onto the lead they’d established in the final minute of the first leg. Neither side has started the Apertura campaign well at all, but it was Estudiantes – who went out of the Sudamericana at this stage in 2005 and 2007 – who were the more determined and, crucially, the more adventurous side.

With Independiente’s midfield showing a marked tendency to pull inside and flood the centre, the wings opened up for the hosts and it took just eight minutes for Gastón Fernández to put them into the lead after a good link up between Juan Sebastián Verón, back in the side having been out for the start of the season with a calf injury, and Marcos Angeleri. The lead continued until half time, as it became increasingly evident that Borghi’s visitors didn’t have much of an understanding of how they were expected to play.

At half time, then, the Independiente manager switched from the 4-3-1-2 he’d started with to a back three, giving the midfield more width and impetus. With that arrived the equaliser, putting El Rojo 3-2 up on aggregate, Leonel Núñez scoring with an overhead kickafter Darío Gandín had weakly headed a Damián Ledesma centre up into the air. The scores level, the second half was a determined effort from both sides, Independiente wanting to prolong their return to continental competition and Estudiantes determined to overcome a dreadful start to the Apertura.

With four minutes left, it fell to Uruguayan midfielder Juan Manuel Salgueiro to head Estudiantes back into the lead on the night and, now level on score and away goals, the tie went to penalties. Independiente scored four from the spot, but the home side scored five, and advance to the next round. At least Racing’s fans will have something to chant at their rivals for Sunday’s Avellaneda clásico.

To see the goals, check back later.

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