Copa Libertadores 2014: Union & O’Higgins draw whilst La U win

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All three Chilean sides went undefeated in the Copa Libertadores this past week albeit in very different manners. Union Española eeked out a hard fought draw against San Lorenzo in Buenos Aires whilst O’Higgins threw away three away three points against Paraguayans Cerro Porteño and Universidad de Chile came from a goal down to defeat Real Garcilaso in Peru.

Union Española are still searching for their first Copa Libertadores win on Argentinian soil as a late Gustavo Canales goal earned them a valuable point away to San Lorenzo. The home side started much the stronger and had their first real opening after just five minutes when Ignacio Piatti fired over from eight yards following a goalmouth scramble.

San Lorenzo, the club supported by Pope Francis, were dominating an extremely passive Union Española side and 15 minutes later they took the lead, Angel Correa collected a flick-on and managed to scramble his way into the area before Mauro Matos poked the loose ball home from 12 yards. After half an hour San Lorenzo had the chance to double their lead when Correa played a through ball into the path of Piatti, but he saw his shot hit the side netting from an increasingly narrow angle.

The visitors started the second half with a lot more purpose than they started the first and Gustavo Canales had his side’s best chance after an hour, stealing the ball from Nestor Ortigoza as he tried to turn on the edge of his own box, but his shot from just inside the area went narrowly over. Correa then had a brilliant chance to double San Lorenzo’s lead as he collected the ball just two yards from goal, but the ball got stuck under his feet and Union Española managed to clear their lines.

The Chileans then started to really dominate and Canales won a free kick just outside the area after being caught in the face by a high boot, however he curled the subsequent set piece inches over the crossbar. Eight minutes later and there would be no further divine intervention for Pope Francis’ team, as 30 crazy seconds saw San Lorenzo almost get a second before Union Española broke and scored the equaliser.

Diego Sanchez saved a point-blank header before his quick distribution started a swift counter that ended with Lorenzo Faravelli’s cross being headed back across goal by Sebastian Jaime and Canales was on hand to finally stab the ball into the net from two yards. The point leaves San Lorenzo in third with four points and Union Española bottom with three, however Botafogo and Independiente del Valle, who are first and second respectively, are also on four points in what is the tightest Copa Libertadores group so far.

O’Higgins threw away a two-goal lead at home to Paraguayans Cerro Porteño and had to settle for a point after Braulio Leal was sent off in the second half.

The Chileans, with a draw and a win to their name so far, sat top of their group prior to kick off and a win would have put them in an extremely strong position to qualify for the knockout stages. The home side started the game in the ascendancy, and their early dominance was rewarded in the 35th minute when Eduardo Lopez curled in a beautifully taken free kick after Pablo Calandria was fouled just outside the box.

O’Higgins went into the break very much in control, although they possibly should have had a greater cushion after dominating the opening 45 minutes. However, just one minute into the second half and O’Higgins finally doubled their lead when the increasingly impressive Pablo Hernandez swivelled brilliantly in midfield and played a perfect through ball into the path of Luis Figueroa, who slid the ball calmly under goalkeeper Roberto Hernandez.

Nine minutes later, Rodolfo Gamarra gave Cerro Porteño a lifeline out of seemingly nothing when he cut inside onto his right foot and unleashed a ferocious right-footed drive from outside the area into Paulo Garces’ near post.

The game turned on its head just after the hour mark when Braulio Leal was sent off for his second yellow card.From then on, O’Higgins sat back and invited Cerro Porteño to attack, which they duly did, and the Paraguayans forced an equaliser 12 minutes from time. Diego Godoy headed a cross back in front of goal and Julio Dos Santos was on hand to head the ball into the net from inside the six-yard box.

O’Higgins will be relieved to have come away with a point after withstanding heavy pressure and it sees them fall to second place on five points, one behind Colombians Deportivo Cali.A special mention goes to Pablo Hernandez who picked up his second Copa Libertadores man of the match awards in three games.

Meanwhile in Peru, Universidad de Chile were the only Chilean to pick up a win in the Copa Libertadores this week as they came from a goal down to defeat Real Garcilaso 2-1.

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