The knockout stages of the Copa Libertadores are upon us. I know I said last week the first legs wouldn’t be until next week, but that serves me right for trusting Globo (no other site I could find had the list fixtures up at the time), doesn’t it? Both Estudiantes de La Plata and Vélez Sarsfield travelled to Mexico on Tuesday night, and they enjoyed contrasting fortunes. Estudiantes won by a single goal to nil against San Luis in Potosí in spite of missing half their team, but Vélez got thumped 3-0 by Chivas de Gudalajara, and will have it all to do when they go back to Liniers. The second legs are next week. Honest. Watch the goals here.
Estudiantes were without Juan Sebastián Verón and five other starters as they took on San Luis – who are in the Copa now courtesy of last year’s swine flu scandal which saw them and Chivas withdraw at this stage last year over CONMEBOL’s treatment of them – away. With several of the big boys – also including Mauro Boselli – left at home to rest up as El Pincha go in search of an unprecedented Clausura-and-Copa double, Leandro González scored the game’s only goal after 24 minutes with an unstoppable shot across the face of goal. Gastón Fernández had a penalty saved and will be hoping it doesn’t come back to haunt him, but for now Estudiantes will be happy enough with the result.
San Luis (MEX) 0 – 1 Estudiantes de La Plata
San Luis are struggling in the Mexican league this year, but not so Chivas, who stand top of their group (San Luis are bottom of the same) and second in the overall standings. Despite missing numerous players to injury or national team call-ups, Chivas dismantled Vélez easily and ran out 3-0 winners in a late evening match (it was gone midnight here in Buenos Aires by the time the second half kicked off). After coasting into half time with a 1-0 lead Chivas took their collective foot off the accelerator thereafter and could have seen Vélez get back into it, had the Liniers side had their own shooting boots on. Late on, though, the hosts picked it up and Omar Bravo, scorer of the opener, doubled his tally with twelve minutes to go before Héctor Reynoso finished things off from the spot following Germán Montoya’s red card.
Guadalajara (MEX) 3 – 0 Vélez Sarsfield
You can follow the Clausura and the Argentine sides in the 2010 Copa Libertadores via HEGS on Twitter (including updates during and between matches and similar stories that might not go up on the site until later). I’m slowly gaining followers, but if you’ve not signed up yet you can do so here.