Universidad de Chile’s hopes of qualifying for the knockout stages of the Copa Libertadores were dealt a blow as they were on the receiving end of a smash-and-grab Cruzeiro performance.
La U topped the group before kick-off and a victory would guarantee them a place in the next round as well as avenge the 5-1 thrashing they were on the end of in the reverse fixture a month previously.
Cruzeiro, on the other hand, had been in poor form in the Copa Libertadores since that win and had only managed to pick up a point in their two matches against Sporting Defensor, leaving them three points behind the Uruguayans who sat in second.
La U dominated from the first whistle but were made to pay for a series of missed chances just after the quarter hour mark when Bruno Rodrigo got his head onto the end of a Dagoberto free kick to put the Brazilians in front against the run of play.
Five minutes before half time and Cruzeiro doubled their lead, Miguel Samudio receiving a pass from Ricardo Goulart and slotting the ball under Johnny Herrera to finish of a brilliant, flowing counter attack.
Despite plenty of huffing and puffing in the second half, La U were unable to find a way past a resolute Cruzeiro defence, although some lacklustre finishing did not help their cause.
The defeat sees La U drop into second place, one point behind Defensor, and puts Cruzeiro back in the hunt for a place in the knockout stage, as they sit just two points behind los azules.
Universidad de Chile need a win against Defensor in Uruguay to be sure of a place in the next round, although it looks to be a tough ask as the group leaders have won both their home games so far, scoring six goals in the process.
Union Española booked their place in the knockout stages of the Copa Libertadores with a fantastic win against Botafogo in the Maracana, their first ever victory on Brazilian soil.
Prior to kick-off, Española were sitting in second place, just one point behind the Brazilians, and knew a win would send them through after last week’s draw between Independiente del Valle and San Lorenzo.
As expected, the home side started on the front foot and peppered Española goalkeeper Diego Sanchez’ goal with a few speculative efforts from range. However, it took until the 43rd minute for the home side to conjure up their first real chance as Wallyson nodded Bruno’s centre back across goal, only for the ball to be met by Sanchez’ gloves in a penalty area swamped with red shirts.
The game’s only goal came in the 72nd minute after Sebastian Jaime was brought down in the area by Julio Cesar, a contentious decision as the Brazilian full-back appeared adamant he got a touch on the ball. Nevertheless, Gustavo Canales stepped up and slotted the ball into the bottom right corner of the net, sending goalkeeper Jefferson the wrong way.
It was the perfect away performance and the victory means Española remain undefeated in the group stage, one of only four teams yet to taste defeat, although they need a win at home against Independiente del Valle in the final group game to be sure of topping the group.