Ina tough night for Ecuadorian football both Barcelona and Liga de Loja were sent tumbling out of the Copa Sudamericana.
Despite recording a credible 0 – 0 draw in Brazil against giants Sao Paulo, La Garra del Oso (The Bear Claw) were eliminated by away goals after their 1 -1 home draw. It brought Loja’s historic first venture into international competition to an end but they can be proud and happy with their maiden attempt.
Also in Brazil but this time against Gremio, Barcelona were eliminated after they lost 2- 1. The result will be more disappointing considering the Guayaquil giants needed only to score one goal to progress and are currently heading the Ecuadorian Serie A.
The Ecuadorian teams had a mixed bag in the first leg ties of last weeks Copa Sudamericana but with a little luck they could all progress.
Liga de Loja had the toughest task against Brazilian giants Gremio and although they secured a credible home draw they will have their work cut out in Porto Alegre. Especially after losing the away goal. Yimmy Bermudez took the lead for Loja in the first half before a Larrea own goal restored parity 7 minutes later.
Emelec secured a fine 2-2 away draw in Chile against current Sudamericana holders Universidad de Chile and should be confident of progress for the return and although Barcelona lost to Sao Paulo they should also overcome the Brazilians in Guayaquil.
The most impressive result was Deportivo Quito’s against Tigre of Argentina. The negro azules have been truly awful domestically and until recently relegation was a realistic threat. Both teams eventually finished the game with 10 men but importantly Quito got tow goals through Lorca in 53 minutes and Vila in the 86th.
Prior to last nights games it was feared that Deportivo Quito and Liga de Loja would be eliminated from the competition, especially as their Serie A form has been so dreadful. In the end all 3 teams progressed and with the strong likelihood that Barcelona will overcome Cobreloa tonight, it means that Ecuador will have 4 teams in the second round for the first time.
The major surprise of the night was Liga de Loja who overcame Nacional of Uruguay 2 – 1 after losing 0 -1 at home in the first leg. It was an historic win for the La Garra del Oso (The Bear Claw) considering this is only their first foray into International competition. Their reward is a glamour tie with Sau Paulo of Brazil in the next round.
Deportivo Quito put their hideous league form behind them to claim an impressive 3 -1 win away to Aurora of Bolivia.Quito were protecting a 2 -1 win from the first leg and progressed 5 – 2 on aggregate. The game was in the heady heights of Cochabamba (2,588 meters) but didn’t faze the Chullas as they controlled the game with the aid of a Bevacqua double. Deportivo will now travel to Argentina for a next round tie against Tigre.
1 – 2
Liga de Loja
1 – 3
0 – 0
The night was rounded off nicely with Emelec progressing with a 0 – 0 draw against Olympia of Paraguay after a 0 -1 away in the first leg. The Guayaquil giants now face Universidad de Chile in the next month, 2011 champions.
Although everyone is celebrating the Ecuadorian success it is proving to be a major headache fro the footballing authorities as the calendar is already behind schedule. The coming Internationa l weekend will only further complicate matters.
Deportivo Quito rounded off the weeks international fixtures with a 2 – 1 home win against Aurora of Bolivia. Although Deportivo controlled much of the game they may yet rue the away goal conceded in the 2nd half. Checa and Lorca scored a quick double on 37 and 38 minutes to them up nicely for the 2nd half however Da Silva claimed a vital goal back for Aurora in 67 minutes. At 2 – 1 the tie is still delicately poised.
Yesterday Liga de Loja lost 0 – 1 to Nacional of Uruguay leaving them with an uphill battle in Montevideo but the Guayaquil teams fared better with Barcelona sealing a fine no-score draw away to Cobreload of Chile while Emelec went one better with a 1 – 0 win away to Olympia of Paraguay.
In other news veteran hitman Ivan Kaviedes has been arrested and detained for 4 days after being pulled over by the police and found to be several times over the limit. To make things worse he apparently resisted arrest and clouted the arresting officer.
Kaviedes, who currently plays for 3rd division Aucas,has had a successful and controversial career. Many will remember him from his spider-man mask celebration in 2006 World Cup.
The first stage or “etape” of the Ecuadorian Serie A was wrapped up on Sunday with Barcelona claiming top spot. In a dramatic last weekend the Guayaquil giants actually lost away to Deportivo Cuenca 1 – 0 however won the first stage of the Championship due to a superior goal difference.
Liga de Loja finished with the same points total but with an inferior goal difference of 11 and had to settle for the runner-up spot. Considering they were only promoted last year and have fraction of the bigger teams resources Loja can be mightily pleases with their position despite the last day heartbreak (especially as they gained Copa Sudamericana qualification).
The real last day losers were Independiente Jose Teran who were pipped both for the title and a Sudamericana place. The provincial team from Sangloqui had led the table for the majority of the “etape” but were leapfrogged by Barcelona, Loja and Emelec after Sunday’s games.
Again despite finishing the league equal with Emelec they were bumped to 4rth as a result of an inferior goal-difference. This wasn’t helped by Emelec thumping Olmedo, 5 – 0.
The league now moves into the 2nd stage which will be the same format as before. At the end of this term the two stage winners will play-off for the total championship.
The 1st stage has been fairly disastrous for the Quito teams with Liga de Quito, Deportivo Quito and El Nacional finishing 6th, 7th and 8th respectively. Deportivo have already made moves in the transfer market in order to retain their championship and Liga have also brought in new faces but Nacional have still to invest.
As stage winners Barcelona qualify for both the Copa Libertadores (which has recently finished for this year) and the Copa Sudamericana . Liga de Loja and Emelec qualify for the Copa Sudamericana along with Deportivo Quito who qualify as the winners of last season’s second stage(starting at the end of July).
Independiente Jose Teran lost at home to Deportivo Cuenca yesterday to damage their championship hopes and hand the ascendancy to Barcelona. The Guayaquil giants have been relentlessly pursuing Independiente for several weeks without taking 1st spot but their 3 -0 win combined with Independiente’s loss awarded them 1st position.
While Independiente benefited from a late winner last week they had to suffer the same punishment against Cuenca who prolonged their excellent away win record courtesy of a Walter Chalá strike in the 83rd minute. It was tough luck for the Sangolqui side as they had enjoyed the bulk of possession but failed to capitalise on their dominance.
Results for week 21
OLMEDO 2 – 0 LIGA DE QUITO
BARCELONA 3 – 0 TEC.UNIVERSITARIO
MACARA 0 –2 EMELEC
MANTA FC 1 – 2 DEPORTIVO QUITO
INDEPENDIENTE 1 – 2 DEPORTIVO CUENCA
EL NACIONAL 1 – 3 LIGA DE LOJA
Liga de Loja continued their surprise championship challenge by hammering El Nacional in the Atahaulpa. Brazilian striker, Renato was in sparkling form and grabbed a 2nd half hat-trick for Los Albos del Sur (The Whites of the South) to move his team into 2nd position.
In the face of continued criticism and talk of drinking problems within the squad Liga de Quito did nothing to deter their detractors by collapsing away to bottom place, Olmedo. The 2- 0 defeat (Jacob Murillo and Hugo Prieto scoring) drops Liga into 6th position, 7 points behind Barcelona.
Current champions Deportivo Quito breathed life into a faltering campaign by defeating Manta 2-1 which in turn boosts their position to 6th. Deportivo will face Leon Huanuco (PERU) in the coming Copa Sudamerica and have to recapture last year’s form if they want to ensure International competition.
Upon reaching the end of this term’s fixtures the league will start again in a double round-robin format and continue till December. The winners of each stage term will play off to become champion with the rest vying for Copa Libertadores and Sudamerican spots. As it stands the top 3 teams will qualify for the Sudamericana (along with Deportivo Quito) while the first term champions will qualify for the Copa Libertadores.
It was my intention to get up to Sangloqui, home of Independiente Jose Teran on Sunday. However because the bus journey back to Quito takes over an hour I would have missed the European Championship final at 1.45.
As a result it was to be visit to the Atahaulpa Stadium to watch El Nacional vs Liga de Loja.
Along with Barcelona, El Nacional are the most successful team in Ecuadorian football with 13 Serie A titles and have represented Ecuador in the Copa Libertadores a record 22 times. They are administered by the Military and alike Chivas Guadalajara of Mexico and Atletic Bilboa of Spain they only play nationally born footballers giving the nickname of Puros Criollos or the Pure Natives.
This term El Nacional have been fairly dreadful and before yesterday’s game they were languishing in 7th position (last year they finished 3rd behind Emelec and Deportivo Quito) , far off the pace but ahead of city rivals Deportivo Quito. They were coming off a 2-1 home defeat to current leaders Independiente last week and needed to salvage at least a point against Loja.
Liga Deportiva Universitaria de Loja or simply Liga de Loja come from the southern based city of Loja and have the nickname of La Garra del Oso or The Bear Claw in English.
Despite only being promoted in 2010 Loja have surpassed all expectations this term and sat in 2nd position before yesterday’s game.This is a major achievement considering their relative wealth and a capacity stadium of only 15,000. Last week they secured a credible home 0-0 draw to Barcelona and were looking to pressurise fellow “minnows” and leaders Independiente.
Although I got to the stadium 5 minutes late I could have waited till half time and still not missed anything. Barely a shot was mustered nor chance created leaving both goalkeepers largely untroubled. A paltry crowd of 3,000 did their best to rouse the teams but in general it was another sedate affair. The Loja fans filled the far right hand corner and were more voluble and greeted their team with the obligatory shower of toilet rolls after the break.
Both teams started the 2nd half with a greater intensity and Loja were denied the opener when Renato burst down the middle straight from the kick off but was scythed down mid shot. Nacional immediately responded with neat build up play down the left hand side through Caicedo and Pita but the final cross sailed over the crossbar.
The Loja goal-keeper, Fernando Fernandez managed to hurt his foot while scrambling for a cross which delayed the proceedings for 4-5 minutes. It was hard to see how he hurt his foot but if I learned one thing form Ecuadorian football it is the players never need a 2nd opportunity to go down and receive medical treatment.When Fernandez finally recovered he spread a beautiful ball down the left wing to an on-runningJonny Uchuari who skipped past a defender and crossed for Renato, who volley home from 5 yards in 53 minutes..
The goal sparked the match into life. Almost immediately Nacional raced up field and attacked the Loja goal. A defected cross found Marcos Caicedo at the edge of the box and he smashed the ball past the helpless Fernandez to bring back parity.
From then on Loja really started to take control of the match.Time and time again the Nacional defenders were slow to react and lax in their marking. Despite towering above the little Brazilian, Renato the Nacional defence were unable to cope with his incisive runs and bursts of speed. The Nacional right back, was suffering a torrid time from tormentor in chief Uchuari who was skipping past challenges and laying on chances for attacking partner.
In 60 minutes Renato doubled his tally when he met a simple through ball high and down the middle. He had time to control the ball but instead chose to a dive and head past the marooned Danny Cabezas.
Nacional tried to rally but seemed bereft of ideas and lacking in attacking options.Their main attacker, Anangonó was full of running but in all the wrong directions and his first touch was at times horrific. The Loja defence easily marshaled any Nacional threat and resolutely blocked any long range efforts.
Renato wrapped up the game and an impressive hat-trick on 73 minutes again from a pass down the middle. He collected the ball with one touch then dispatched it past Cabezas with the next, giving no time for the keeper to react. It was the best goal of the three and deservedly secured Loja’s victory.
The win continues Loja’s unlikely championship challenge at moves them up to 2nd position behind Barcelona while Nacional’s loss sees them tumble 9th or 4rth bottom.