So you can’t watch the first leg of the 2009 Copa Libertadores final, but want to be able to follow – in English – how it’s going? You’ve come to the right place. HEGS will be providing live-ish updates (as I see the match on my internet stream) for the unlucky few who can’t get a picture. And if you’re watching but want to join in the fun, feel free to make a comment. [Post-match edit: I’ve put in a little of the Estudiantes players’ post-match reaction at the bottom of the page, for those who are really interested.]
Estudiantes 0 – 0 Cruzeiro (FULL TIME)
10:04pm – Estudiantes get things underway.
3 mins: A couple of tasty tackles early on and we’ve had the first ‘gathering’ of players near the halfway line. Estudiantes emergency loan defender Rolando Schiavi was the guilty party.
5 mins: The early running has been all Estudiantes, with Leandro Benítez just having had a shot easily held by visiting goalkeeper Fábio after cutting in from the left.
8 mins: Cruzeiro decide to adopt an interesting defensive strategy of heading the ball across their backline under little pressure, almost coming unstuck when Enzo Pérez charges the ball down, but his cut back is cleared.
10 mins: Nice play between Pérez and Gastón Fernández leads to an Estudiantes free kick in Seba Verón territory, 30 yards out to the right of goal…
…Which will be taken from closer to 20 yards out after one of the two-man defensive wall elects to punch the ball away.
11 mins: First corner of the game for Estudiantes after Fábio, at full stretch, tips Verón’s free kick away from the top corner and over the bar.
12 mins: Cruzeiro eventually deal with the corner at the third attempt, putting it out for a throw.
13 mins: Cruzeiro are attacking now, with Wellington Paulista and Henrique linking up nicely and Wágner attempting to put a team-mate in through the left channel, but Leandro Desábato snuffs out the pass.
15 mins: An Estudiantes attack down the left breaks down and Cruzeiro counter rapidly and dangerously: Ramires knocks it inside for Wágner, who feeds Gerson Magrão, but the midfielder’s shot isn’t the best and Estudiantes play it away.
17 mins: Second great save of the night from Fábio, who pushes Enzo Pérez’s shot from the edge of the six yard box over after the midfielder was put through by Gastón Fernández. A drain has now burst behind the Cruzeiro goal and the water is making its way onto the pitch…
19 mins: The first corner having been turned behind, Cruzeiro clear the second but the ball is soon back with Estudiantes. Enzo Pérez puts it out for a throw on the halfway line.
21 mins: Fernández runs onto an angled ball from Verón and into the box, but Henrique dispossesses him without too much fuss.
23 mins: Are we already a quarter of the way through this match?! It’s been good stuff so far, with Estudiantes dominating but Cruzeiro’s couple of rapid counter-attacks doing enough to let the hosts know they can’t afford to get complacent. That said, Fábio has been Cruzeiro’s most influential player so far.
24 mins: As I was typing that, Cruzeiro got the ball into Estudiantes’ box for the first time, but Wellington Paulista up front had already been flagged offside.
26 mins: A Cruzeiro free kick from near the (attacking) left corner of Estudiantes’ penalty box is headed away and the ball’s out, though Estudiantes are now without Germán Ré, moved off the pitch with a head wound in challenging for the ball. He’s having what appears to be a fishnet stocking pulled over his head (hey, it’s late at night and I’m watching this on my own, I’m allowed to see this image however I like it) which is being topped up with a bright blue bandage. Very fetching.
28 mins: With Ré off the pitch, Cruzeiro attack down ‘his’ side (Estudiantes’ left), but Ramires sends an optimistic cross / shot / something wide.
30 mins: Verón sends in a left-sided free kick which is cleared by Cruzeiro, and the ball’s soon back in the hands of home goalkeeper Mariano Andújar, who gets what seems like his first touch of the ball from open play.
31 mins: Another free kick, this one from the right, which Verón sends over everyone’s heads and out for a goal kick. Not a classic.
32 mins: Leandro Benítez wins the ball back high up the pitch on the left for Estudiantes, but puts it out for a Cruzeiro throw under pressure from the midfield and defence.
33 mins: A rare advanced Cruzeiro attack is held up on the edge of the box for a foul, and Andújar smacks the free kick back up the pitch. Cruzeiro give away another free kick around 40 yards out which Verón takes short before working into the box towards a lone Benítez, to no effect.
34 mins: Benítez releases Fernández, who’s got away free on the left and cuts back, but the box is already congested by the time he tries to shoot. The ball falls to Verón, whose drive from fully 30 yards flies wide.
36 mins: A long-range Estudiantes free kick from Benítez is swung into the centre of the penalty box and Fábio comes out to punch it, flattening Schiavi in the process, who’s clearly hurt. He’s up after a minute though, and the game goes on.
37 mins: Pérez feeds Benítez on the left, but the left-footer’s cross flashes across goal, and Mauro Boselli – who’s been the only attacking player for Estudiantes to not have made much of an impact thus far – spoils the chance Estudiantes have of winning it back quickly with a foul just inside the Cruzeiro box.
39 mins: Another Cruzeiro attack is stopped by the linesman’s flag.
41 mins: A cross from Estudiantes right back Christian Cellay is well held under the crossbar by Fábio, with Boselli challenging but coming off second best.
42 mins: Another Estudiantes attack down the left, with Pérez feeding Fernández, who perhaps really should have opened the scoring this time, but again leaves it just slightly too long. Jonathan’s allegedly meant to be the Cruzeiro right back tonight, and he’s doing a bloody terrible job.
44 mins: An Estudiantes attack down the right seems to have broken down, until Boselli, coming into the game in the last few minutes, tees up Verón for a right-footed volley from 25 yards which Fábio saves, Superman-style, and holds onto. Show off.
Two minutes of stoppage time, during which Estudiantes keep Cruzeiro chasing the ball as they have for most of the first period. Just as the ref blows for half time, Enzo Pérez goes down clutching his right ankle, but it looks like more of a painful knock than anything that should threaten his participation in the second half.
The first half has been largely Estudiantes, as we might have expected from the two matches these sides played against each other in the group stages of the competition; both were heavy wins for the home team. There’s clearly joy to be had for Estudiantes if they can keep getting in behind Jonathan on the right of Cruzeiro’s defence, who’s defending with all the presence of mind we expect from Brazilian full backs.
If Rolando Schiavi can stop himself getting a second yellow card after the break, and if Gastón Fernández in particular keeps his cool just a little better on breaking into the box, we should have at least one goal for the hosts in the second half. That being said, Fábio has been faultless in the Cruzeiro goal, and although they’ve not shown a lot going forward so far, the midfield – Ramires and Wágner especially – look very dangerous if they escape the attentions of Estudiantes’ marking.
11:12pm: Cruzeiro kick off the second half.
46 mins: Estudiantes start the second half as they ended the first, on the attack. The ball’s won back early and they’ve got a throw-in in an advanced position on the left, though Fernández eventually wastes a chance to put the ball into the box.
48 mins: Benítez feed Boselli, who turns in the box and Fábio saves superbly. From the corner, the ‘keeper makes another great save to push the ball round the post, and Benítez fires over from outside the box after the second corner kick.
49 mins: A disjointed attack from Cruzeiro ends with a shot from the right of the box which Kléber drags across goal.
51 mins: Cruzeiro have a penalty shout waved away as a forward goes down in the area as the ball is crossed in. On the third or fourth replay, it’s clear there was little if any contact. The visitors are suddenly looking a lot more lively though.
54 mins: Jonathan may have been neglecting his defensive duties, but he’s just forced Mariano Andújar into a save – albeit a very easy one with a daisycutter from around 35 yards out.
57 mins: Boselli drops deep and plays the enganche for a change as Fernández gets forward. Boselli releases Pérez down the left but as he looks for the striker, the ball is cut out. In trying to win the ball back in an aerial tackle, Verón sustains a cut to his face. 58 minutes before an Estudiantes Copa Libertadores final sees blood drawn? It would never have taken this long when his dad was playing.
60 mins: Schiavi panicks a clearance having initially received the ball under very little pressure, and Cellay brings Wágner down as he tries to break down the Cruzeiro left. As Cruzeiro get ready to take the free kick Verón’s off to get his face re-bandaged, the blood having circumvented the plaster he was given a couple of minutes ago. Wellington goes down in a heap close to an Estudiantes defender, seemingly apropos of nothing…
64 mins: Estudiantes are attacking in set pieces now. An ‘industrial’ turn in midifeld gives them a halfway line free kick, from which they claim another further up, followed by a throw and then a corner, before Verón is taken out by Jonathan on the right. The ‘defender’ is booked. Free kick, and Seba’s off to get his face seen to again.
67 mins: The winter night in the City of the Diagonals is heating up now – first Jonathan is forced to hurdle a sliding challenge from Benítez on the halfway line, before Pérez falls under a double Cruzeiro tackle. Another corner for Estudiantes is cleared, Wágner gets the ball at the other end and almost gets through, but nothing comes of it.
68 mins: Fernández is fouled by Gerson Magrão, and Verón puts a free kick over from the right which evades everyone. Benítez keeps it in but from his left-wing cross, Estudiantes aren’t able to capitalise.
70 mins: Another free kick for Cruzeiro after Rolando Schiavi takes Marquinhos Paraná down. It’s from a harmless position though – way out on the left, near the halfway line, and Estudiantes are attacking again soon.
72 mins: Wágner sends in a corner which is only half cleared, and Cruzeiro win a free kick from Enzo Pérez’s subsequent attempt to clear.
73 mins: Jonathan puts the ball into the box and Thiago Silva meets it at the far post, sending the ball just wide. A very good chance and by some distance the closest Cruzeiro have come to a goal.
74 mins: Estudiantes substitution Maximiliano Núñez comes on for Leandro Benítez.
76 mins: Fernández wins Estudiantes a corner but Boselli can’t get enough on his header as he darts to the near post to meet Verón’s delivery.
78 mins: Wágner is caught just offside as he tries to link up an attack for Cruzeiro down the left.
79 mins: Núñez looks likely on Estudiantes’ left wing, but Jonathan disposseses him.
79 mins: Cruzeiro miss an unbelievable chance after Andújar punches a cross straight onto Kléber’s foot, and the forward sidefoots it wide from eight yards out in the middle of the goal, possibly distracted by his strike partner falling to ground after losing a challenge for the ball moments before.
81 mins: Another Cruzeiro attack breaks down on the edge of Estudiantes’ box.
81 mins: Estudiantes substitution Juan Manuel Salgueiro replaces Gastón Fernández.
83 mins: Wellington sends a volley fizzing over the crossbar after a nice cut back across the box. Cruzeiro have only got going late on, but they’re looking desperate for a late goal to take back to Belo Horizonte.
85 mins: Gerson Magrão is down with cramp, and stretchered off.
86 mins: Cruzeiro substitution Fabinho replaces Gerson Magrão.
89 mins: Cruzeiro attack down the left and Wellington sends a cross over which Leandro Desábato gets his head to to divert it away just in time.
89 mins: Estudiantes promptly go up the other end and substitute Salgueiro cuts back onto his right foot and flashes a shot just wide of Fábio’s left-hand post.
Three minutes of stoppage time. A nice patient move from Cruzeiro is broken up with a tackle from Schiavi, and Fabinho puts in a- well, I don’t know what it was meant to be. It was heading away from the goal but a deflection gives Cruzeiro a corner anyway, which they totally waste. Estudiantes get it away, chase the ball back to Fábio, and his clearance – fittingly, given his performance – is the last action of the match.
Seba Verón told the TV camera afterwards that although there was some ‘confusion’ in the latter part of the second half, ‘[the performance] deserved more,’ than the 0-0 scoreline Estudiantes have to be satisfied with. He’s got a point – Fábio in the Cruzeiro goal was, quite indisputably, the man of the match, making three good saves in the first half and two in very rapid succession in the second.
Asked about the situation heading into the second leg, Leandro Desábato replied; ‘All the matches are complicated… but if we play with the ball like we did today, we’ll give ourselves a chance.’ Enzo Pérez, meanwhile, is clearly too exhausted to say anything which might make a bit of sense, and frankly, I’m too tired to type much more now. On Thursday during the day (I’ve got tomorrow off the day job) there will be whatever highlights video I can find posted here on HEGS. For now, chau y buenas noches.