The Copa kicks off.
In the opening game of the 2011 Copa Sudamerica, reigning champions Independiente of Argentina travelled to Ecuador to face LDU Quito. The hosts are a side who have also enjoyed recent success in the competition, winning the title as recently as 2009. They progressed through both preliminary stages with relative ease, defeating Yaracuyanos and Trujillanos, both of Venezuela.
LDU took the lead just before half time when Paul Ambrosi made the most of some lax defending by the Argentinians to smash the ball in to the roof of the net. Hernan Barcos found space behind the defence from a throw in and his smart turn enabled him to supply the ball for the goal.
Liga doubled their lead early in the second half with a superb goal. Some delightfully intricate play was finished off by Luis Bolanos when he powered the ball out of the reach of Hilario Navarro and into the top corner.
Independiente are having a torrid time of late and this 2-0 loss will only damage club morale further. They face a tricky league game against Racing this weekend before the return leg at the Estadio Libertadores de America on the 13th of October.
Botafogo were without some key players for their tie against Santa Fe of Colombia. Bruno Cortes and Elkeson were rested due to their involvement with the national team earlier in the week, though the latter made the bench. Maicosuel was also missing as he picked up a knock in the previous league game against Sao Paulo.
The Colombians took an early lead at the Engenhao after a neat move, initiated by Alejandro Bernal, was tapped in by Omar Perez at the back post. The Argentine’s goal coming just eight minutes after the kick off.
Elkeson was brought on at half time to inject some creativity into Botafogo’s play and the move paid dividends midway through the second half. His perfectly weighted through ball was another example of why Mano Menezes called him into the Brazil squad for the last Superclasico de las Americas. Fellow substitute Caio dinked the ball over Camilo Vargas as he rushed out to meet him, thus ensuring the match finished level.
Arguably Argentina’s most improved club in recent years, Godoy Cruz, invited Universitario of Peru to Mendoza for their first leg tie. After a somewhat stale match, the deadlock was finally broken nine minutes from time. German Voboril dithered on the ball and was dispossessed by Andy Polo whose cross into the box was swept home on the volley by Peruvian starlet Raul Ruidiaz.
The goal spurred the hosts into action and they got their equaliser in the dying moments of the match. Gonzalo Cabrera struck a free kick from 30 yards that scythed through the air and crashed into the back of the net. It was a truly tremendous goal that earned his side a draw.
In the week’s other game Olimpia hosted Arsenal de Sarandi in Asuncion. Both sides had chances to score early on in the game, Sergio Orteman had plenty of time to pick his spot but skied his effort. Moments later at the other end, Mauro Obolo’s header was tipped onto the bar by Martin Silva, the striker then also missed his follow up effort by heading wide. Arsenal hit the post again late on and the game ended goalless.
Next week sees Aurora host Vasco da Gama in Bolivia and Universidad Catolica host Velez Sarsfield in Chile. We can expect goals in these ties and an extension of the quality that we have already seen in the tournament.
Read more from Tom at his excellent blog Purple Patch