This week’s Copa Libertadores games.

Group 4

09/04/2013                         CA Peñarol          –             Deportes Iquique

09/04/2013                         Vélez Sársfield  –             CS Emelec

Group 2

10/04/2013                         Tigre      –             Sporting Cristal

Group 6

10/04/2013                        Deportes Tolima                –             Santa Fe

10/04/2013                         Real Garcilaso    –             Cerro Porteño

Group 5

11/04/2013                         Corinthians SP   –             Club San José

11/04/2013                         Club Tijuana       –             Millonarios

Group 8

11/04/2013                         Grêmio Porto Alegre      –             Fluminense RJ

Group 2

11/04/2013                         SE Palmeiras       –             Libertad

Group 7

12/04/2013                         CD Lara –             Universidad de Chile

12/04/2013                         Olimpia Asunción             –             Newell’s Old Boys

Montero shines in Quito.

Ecuador 4 Paraguay 1

 

Ecuador took a huge step towards qualification with a comfortable win over Paraguay. The win puts “La Tri” on 20 points thanks mainly to their home form in the Atahaulpa stadium.

Ecuador started with a full strength team that included Antonio Valencia, Cristain Benitez, Jefferson Montero and Filipe Caicedo. The only change from the usual 11 was the dropping of Luis Saritama for Pedro Quinonez. With a crammed home crowd behind them, Ecuador must have felt full of confidence but they didn’t reflect this on the pitch, early on.

Paraguay took the lead in the 15th minute through Luis Cabellero who shot low past Dominguez to silence the partisan hoards. It was a well taken goal but the defenders should have cleared the ball instead of dallying in the box.

The goal stung the Ecuadorians into action and they attacked Bolivia mercilessly, mainly down the flanks through the tricky Montero and Quinonez. Achilier saw his header hit the crossbar in the 24th minute then Valencia volleyed home 5 minutes later, only for it to be chalked off by the linesman. It was clear Paraguay were not going to hold out.

 

The equaliser was as inevitable as the scorer. Felipe Caicedo was brought back into the fold by Reinaldo Rueda for this campaign and he has repaid his coach with 5 goals at vital moments during these qualifiers. Just before half time he bustled his way past the Paraguayan defence to head in an Ayovi close from close range.

 

Ecuador started the 2nd half in similar fashion destroying the Paraguayans with their pace and long, deep cross field balls. In the 50th minute Quinonez dropped a splendid pass onto the feet of the onrushing Montero. The Morelia midfielder slipped past the left back then drove the ball into the net to take the lead.

Four minutes later Montero again was tormentor in chief dribbling past two defenders, cutting back then crossing for “Chucho” Benitez to head home for the third. Paraguay were being over-run by wave after wave of yellow shirts with only the woodwork saving them.

Montero

 With 15 minutes Montero exchanged a one-two with Saritama and set-off on another mazy like run, snaking through the red and white jerseys with ease. Upon reaching the goal area is shot wrong footed the helpless Baretto and the ball trickled into the goal. It was fortunate but he had made his own luck.

Another home win sets Ecuador in an excellent 2nd position behind Argentina. Their next games are against Peru, away then Messi & Co in Quito. The Argentinians are notoriously weak at altitude so two draws are not overly optimistic. With Montero is this type of form another home win could seal a summer in Brazil.

Honours even in La Paz

The Albicelestes would have been mindful of their last visit to La Paz during World Cup qualification. 4 years ago they were hammered 6 – 1 in the thin air of the Bolivian capital. It wasn’t quite as bad this time around but they did struggle.

The home team dominated the first half and deservedly went ahead in the 25th minute. A long ball by Chumacero drifted into the penalty area and met the head of Marcelo Martins, then the net. The defending was fairly dreadful but the ex-Wigan striker did well to direct the ball past Sergio Romero.

The goal stung Argentina into action and they equalised just before half time through Ever Banega. Again the defending was poor when Clemente Rodriguez crossed to the penalty spot. With 3 defenders around him, Banega managed to direct his header low into the Bolivian net.

Argentina pushed for the winner during the 2nd half but they were unable to beat the impressive Sergio Galarza. Banega and Messi were both thwarted by the Bolivian veteran late on.

 

Match goals

 

The point keeps Argentina at the summit of the qualification table 4 points ahead of Ecuador, Bolivia lie 2nd bottom and struggling to make the qualifying positions.

 

 

P            W           D            L              Pts

Argentina            11           7              3          1              24                          

Ecuador              10           6              2           2             20                            

Colombia             10           6              1           3            19                         

Chile                    11           5             0            6            15   

Venezuela            11           4              3           4            15 

Uruguay               11           3              4           4           13

Peru                     10            3              2          5           11

Bolivia                  11            2              3          6            9

Paraguay              11           2              2            7            8

CONMEBOL Qualifier results.

Colombia 5 Bolivia 0

“El Cafeteros” were the first to start on Friday afternoon and they wasted no time in slapping aside Bolivia in Barranquilla. Torres, Valdes, Gutierrez, Falcoa and Armero each grabbed a goal to bolster their 2nd place position and condemn Bolivia to 2nd bottom.

Paraguay 1 Uruguay 1

In Montevideo, Luis Suarez had looked to have sealed a win with a late volley in 82 minutes. However, Benitez struck 4 minutes late to steal a valuable and unlikely point.

Argentina 3 Venezuela 0

In Buenos Aires it was business as usual as Gonzalo Higuain claimed a brace and a Messi penalty in between. The Argentinians consolidated the pole position, 4 points above Colombia.

Peru 1 Chile 0

Jefferson Farfan was the hero in Lima as he struck in the 87 minute against Chile. The Peruvians have had a rotten campaign but this rare win sees them rise above the bottom dwellers and reintroduce them to the 5th place battle.

POS TEAM P W D L F A GD Pts
1 Argentina 10 7 2 1 23 7 16 23
2 Colombia 9 6 1 2 19 6 13 19
3 Ecuador 9 5 2 2 12 9 3 17
4 Uruguay 10 3 4 3 17 19 -2 13
5 Chile 10 4 0 6 14 19 -5 12
6 Venezuela 10 3 3 4 8 12 -4 12
7 Peru 10 3 2 5 11 15 -4 11
8 Bolivia 10 2 2 6 12 19 -7 8
9 Paraguay 10 2 2 6 7 17 -10 8

Bees halt Brazilian match

I’m not sure what is more surprising the bees or the fact that Rivaldo is still on the go (35 seconds).

I saw this once before in Mexican friendly match. That time the stadium officials chose to douse the bees with water, only enraging them further. The bees then moved on to a pitch-side microphone ,which the officials also doused despite being electrically charged.

Lost in Translation

Luis Suarez has become the latest player to be caught out with loose chat to journalists.

I’m not sure why players constantly make this same mistake. Especially in these days of 24 hour news dissemination and social media. All to often foreign players let their guard and blab to their fellow countrymen seemingly unaware of the consequences.

The Uruguayan and Liverpool centre forward was asked by a Uruguayan newspaper if he desired to leave Liverpool.

He answered :

“If another team comes around with more prospects of competing in international club competition games, which is willing to have [me], they are welcome.

“We would talk to the club, and we would see if I want to go or if I don’t want to go.”

Although it is wasn’t a stinging rebuke of the Merseyside team nor a definite answer, it could be seen as criticism of Liverpool’s faltering campaign under Brendan Rodgers and a statement of intent.

Suarez is a top class player and needs to playing in the top class club competition : the Champions League. He would probably be awarded the Player of the Season the is year (if he benefited from a better public persona and as little less condemnation by the media).

It’s hardly surprising that he has his eyes on greater prizes than the FA and League Cup.

Although Liverpool are historically a big club they have fallen away in recent years, failing to break into the top 4 Champion League places. A failure to match the huge spending of Manchester City and Chelsea along with managerial chopping and changing has contributed to their demise.

If Liverpool lose Suarez he will be very difficult to replace. Much like Fernando Torres before him, Suarez has become the focal point of the Liverpool team. To the point that players are bought, sold and picked to complement him eg. Andy Carroll.

 

Unless Rodgers brings a top quality attacker with either a huge price tag – Falcoa,Cavani-or  a young prospect with huge skill, he will have to start his “long term project ” from scratch.

It is unlikely that Liverpool will finish in the top 4. It would take a complete collapse by Spurs, Arsenal or Chelsea combined with an impossible winning run by Liverpool. As a result Suarez will be a target for almost all of the big continental teams. Bayern are supposed to be interested along with Barca and Real Madrid.

Barcelona champs but Olmedo and Universitario go down

With Barcelona claiming the title without playing on Wednesday there was only the Copa Libertadores and last relegation place left to settle.

barca

Despite losing 2-1 Independiente claimed a historic Libertadores place for the first time in their history. The minnows from Sangloqui are regarded as Ecuador’s best young team but it remains to be seen if they can step up to continental  level. They will be joined by Barcelona, Emelec and Liga.
macara
Macara put any fears of last day relegation behind them with a thumping 4 – 0 win against Deportivo Quito. The game was dominated by a dreadful refereeing display where he denied a legitimate goal, sent two players off and awarded a dubious penalty. Deportivo looked dreadful without Saritama (released) and Paredes (moved to Barcelona) and deserved the heavy defeat.
El Nacional beat Tecnico Universitario 3 – 1 to ensure their safety and condemn Universitario to the second division.
Deportivo Cuenca 1 – 0 Emelec
Barcelona 3 – 1 Olmedo
Técnico Universitario 1 – 3 El Nacional
Liga de Loja 2 – 1 Independiente del Valle
Liga de Quito 1 – 0 Manta F.C.
Deportivo Quito 0 – 4 Macará
Final standings for Etape (stage ) 2
Equipo P W D L Pts GD
1. Barcelona
22 13 6 3 45 +23
2. Emelec
22 11 4 7 37 +2
3. Liga de Quito
22 9 8 5 35 +6
4. Independiente del Valle
22 9 4 9 31 -3
5. Técnico Universitario
22 8 7 7 31 -7
6. Manta F.C.
22 8 6 8 30 +5
7. Macará
22 9 2 11 29 -2
8. Liga de Loja
1
22 7 6 9 27 -1
9. Deportivo Cuenca
1
22 7 6 9 27 -3
10. Deportivo Quito
2
22 6 7 9 25 -11
11. El Nacional
1
22 5 8 9 23 -4
12. Olmedo
1
22 5 6 11 21 -5

Accumulated points over both etapes (stages).

Equipo P W D L Pts GD
1. Barcelona
44 23 14 7 83 +41
2. Emelec
44 22 8 14 74 +18
3. Liga de Quito
1
44 17 18 9 69 +16
4. Independiente del Valle
1
44 19 11 14 68 +6
5. Liga de Loja
44 17 14 13 65 +6
6. Deportivo Cuenca
44 18 9 17 63 -5
7. Manta F.C.
44 15 12 17 57 +4
8. Deportivo Quito
44 14 14 16 56 0
9. El Nacional
44 13 13 18 52 -14
10. Macará
1
44 14 8 22 50 -16
11. Técnico Universitario
1
44 12 13 19 49 -21
12. Olmedo
44 9 8 27 35 -35

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