The Bolivian side earned a shock victory of the Brazilian league leaders
Vasco da Gama were on the end of a shock result in the Round of 16 first leg tie away to Bolivian side Aurora. Vasco have been in great form in the Brasileiro in recent weeks and came in to the game off the back of a draw with title rivals Corinthians that kept them top.
The Brazilian side kept just two players from the starting line-up in that game, playing very much a second-string side. Only Fernando Prass and Fagner remained in the starting line-up as Vasco rested players as the domestic title race heats up.
For Aurora, this is certainly a tournament they will not be taking lightly. Having comfortably beaten Nacional (PAR) in the preliminary stages they are by no means a walkover. The side are based in the city of Cochabamba, around 2500 metres above sea level. A stark contrast for Rio de Janeiro based Vasco and it seemed to show as the game wore on.
However it was the Brazilians who took the lead in the first half. Pablo Lanz was caught out by the bounce of the ball and was left scrambling after it. He managed to palm the ball on to the post and it looked like he may have made a miraculous save. Bernardo ensured the keeper will have sleepless nights though as he followed the ball in to slam it in from point-blank range.
Aurora equalised five minutes after half time when the ball ricocheted around the box before falling to Aquilino Villalba. The Paraguayan seemed to completely miss-hit his shot though it turned out to be a masterstroke, looping over Fernando Prass and into the net.
By the 57th minute the Bolivian side were ahead. Augusto Andaveris gathered Villalba’s flick on before rifling a volley across Fernando Prass and into the far corner.
Vasco were offered a glimmer of hope when Villalba received his marching orders for a second yellow card. The Bolivians remained unperturbed and the 10 men enhanced upon their lead with 15 minutes remaining. Jair Reinoso out-muscled Felipe before providing an emphatic finish with a volley into the top corner that gave the Vasco keeper no chance.
Aurora will take a 3-1 lead to the Sao Januario. It will be interesting to see whether Vasco will play with a similar line-up or include some more of the big guns. Though as they have already qualified for the 2012 Copa Libertadores through their Copa do Brasil win it seems unlikely they will.
Meanwhile in Chile, Universidad Catolica hosted Velez Sarsfield. The two sides are familiar with each other having participated in the same Copa Libertadores group earlier this year. Catolica beat Velez 4-3 in Argentina and then contained them at home in order to win the group.
However, Velez, who have had a poor start to the Argentinian Apertura by their standards, would not make the same mistake twice.
Guillermo Franco put Velez ahead with a typical effort in the 15th minute. The clinical striker bided his time before placing a shot in the far corner on the turn. It was an attempt that put his side in the ascendancy and they never looked back.
Shortly before the break Augusto Fernandez received the ball directly from Marcelo Barovero’s goal kick and carried it down the line. He cut inside before crossing the ball to Ivan Bella who was surging forwards from midfield. Bella beat the keeper to the ball and poked it home, ensuring his side went into the break with a 2-0 lead.
The game stayed that way in what was a comfortable win for the visitors. They must not be complacent in the second leg as they know first hand the threat that Universidad Catolica can pose.
Next week Independiente will look to overturn a two goal deficit at home to LDU Quito in their second leg. The reigning champions picked up a valuable point in their last league match against local rivals Racing Club and will hope to improve their form with a positive result against the Ecuadorian side.
Read more from Tom at his excellent blog Purple Patch