2011 Copa Libertadores Quarterfinals, Second Legs: Penarol And Cerro Porteno Both Advance

This round of Copa Libertadores looks and feels strangely like the last one. Velez Sarsfield looks to continue their dominance, while Jaguares and Once Caldas look to continue their Cinderella runs.

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Cerro Porteno Vs. Jaguares, 2011 Copa Libertadores: Cerro Advance With 1-0 Win

Cerro Porteno could have played for a 0-0 draw and advanced with that. After drawing Jaguares 1-1 in the first leg of their Copa Libertadores quarterfinal tie, a scoreless match would have moved them on on away goals. That is what was expected of Cerro. After all, their approach all tournament has been bore, bore, bore and find some way to advance. At home in the second leg though, Cerro pressed. They looked to attack and while they needed help from Jaguares to get their goal, they got their goal. They defeated Jaguares 1-0 in the match and 2-1 on aggregate to advance to the semifinals where they will play Santos for a spot in the final.

Neither team could score in the first half, but it wasn't because neither side tried. Whenever either team had a chance to attack they did, but neither have much imagination in the final third. Most of the chances for both teams were half-chances and the goalkeepers were rarely threatened. Cerro found plenty of space on the wings, but had nothing from there, while Jaguares welcomed Jackson Benitez back from suspension and played through him to no avail.

The second half brought more of the same. The teams went forward, they gave it a go, but they just didn't have the quality to do much near the goal. Once either team got into the final third, they were at a loss. Finally though, Jaguares gave Cerro a goal.

A Cerro corner found the head of a Jaguares defender with nobody around him. All he had to do was head the ball away and it wouldn't have been difficult to do, but he mishit his header and instead hit it high into the air on the edge of the six-yard box. That's when Fabia Villasenor came running out to punch it away, but he missed the punch. All Pedro Benitez had to do then was head the ball into the open goal, which he did to put Cerro on top.

Jaguares came right back and almost scored right away. A free header from 10 yards gave the Mexicans a chance to level the match and tie, but Diego Barreto leaped and palmed it away to keep Cerro on top. Later, Ismael Fuentes was sent off and Jaguares' chances were over. Cerro were onto the semifinals.


Cerro Porteno Vs. Jaguares, 2011 Copa Libertadores: Cerro Go Ahead On Defensive Blunder

Teams that complete Cinderella runs don't make bad mistakes in front of their own goal, but that's just what Jaguares did. The Mexican club that has surprised everyone by making it to the Copa Libertadores quarterfinals may have put the nail in their own coffin with an awful clearance that allowed Cerro Porteno to score and go ahead 1-0 in the second leg of the two-legged tie. The goal puts Cerro up 2-1 on aggregate and in Paraguay, Jaguares will have a tough time coming back.

A corner kick was hit right at a Jaguares defender with no one around him. All he had to do was head it away to safety, but instead he hit it high up in the air, right at the edge of Jaguares' own six-yard box. Fabian Villasenor came rushing off his line to punch it away, but he whiffed on the punch and Pedro Benitez headed itin for the Cerro goal that sent an already raucous home crowd into raptures.

Jaguares were already the underdog and now they are an even bigger underdog. If they manage a goal they can go to penalty kicks (there is no extra time in Copa Libertadores until the final), but even that looks like asking too much from the plucky Mexicans.


Cerro Porteno Vs. Jaguares, 2011 Copa Libertadores: First Half Ends Scoreless

Neither Cerro Porteno nor Jaguares can be blamed for a negative approach. Both sides have gone forward when they had their chances. Of course that was expected from Jaguares. They've never been a negative team and needing a goal to advance in this Copa Libertadores quarterfinal, they were always going to have a go. Seeing Cerro get forward is somewhat of a surprise though. The notoriously boring and negative team took their chances despite knowing a 0-0 draw would see them on away goals after a 1-1 first leg in Mexico. Even so, neither team could score in the first 45 minutes.

Jaguares were without Jackson Martinez in the first leg and his return in this second leg has paid dividends. The Colombian is in the center of most of Jaguares' forays forward and while not 100% sharp, he has commanded the attention of the Cerro defense. The problem for Jaguares is that Cerro is winning the battle in the midfield so while Cerro has been unimaginative in the final third, they are keeping Jaguares away from the ball. There are 45 minutes left and the way it is going, whoever scores a goal will likely be through to the semifinals.


Cerro Porteno Vs. Jaguares, 2011 Copa Libertadores: Lineups

Cerro Porteno has done their best all Copa Libertadores long to make viewers hate football. They defend and defend and defend, never even pretending like they want to go forward. When opposing teams look like they might break them down, Cerro foul them. That is why it was such a relief when Cerro was up 1-0 right at the death of the first leg of their quarterfinal tie against Jaguares that Jaguares leveled to make the second leg interesting.

For Jaguares, they are in the midst of their own cinderella run. Nobody expected them to make it to the quarterfinals and while a draw at home in the first leg is usually a disappointment, getting it without the services of the suspended Jackson Martinez was impressive. Now Martinez is back and while Cerro are undoubtedly favorites, Jaguares have a chance to continue their amazing run to the semifinals.

Cerro Porteno (4-4-2): Diego Barreto - Ivan Piris, Mariano Uglessich, Pedro Benitez, Cesar Benitez  - Javier Villareal, Jonathan Fabbro, Luis Caceres, Ivan Torres - Juan Manuel Lucero, Roberto Antonio Nanni

Jaguares (4-4-2): Fabian Villasenor -  Miguel Martinez, Ismael Fuentes, Christian Valdez, Oscar Razo - Alan Zamora, Edgar Andrade, Ricardo, Esqueda, Jordge Marcelo Rodriguez -  Jackson Martinez, Antonio Salazar


Universidad Catolica Vs. Penarol, 2011 Copa Libertadores: Thrilling Match Sees Penarol Advance

Universidad Catolica were slight favorites to take down Penarol in the Copa Libertadores quarterfinals, but with the way the second leg of the tie played out the story will be on the match and not the upset. A thrilling tie turned in favor of Penarol after their won 2-0 at home in the first leg, but a pair of UC goals in the second leg leveled things and turned the momentum clearly in favor of the Chilean team. Penarol had no regard for momentum though, scoringjust five minutes from fulltime to  to break a 2-2 tie on aggregate and book their place in the semifinals of the tournament.

It looked like Penarol would make it 3-0 on aggregate and get the vital away goal early in the match when Mathias Corujo cleverly flicked a cross on towards the backpost in the second minute. The shot looked goal bound, but Paulo Garces stretched to make a fantastic save and keep UC down just 2-0.

That save became all the more important in the 17th minute when Lucas Pratto did well at the top of the box to fend of defenders with his back to goal. He held onto the ball, waiting on a run from Fernando Meneses and when that run came, Pratto played a perfect pass for him. Meneses struck the ball hard and towards the far post, leaving the goalkeeper without a chance and UC within one goal.

That second goal that UC needed came in the 68th minute. Both teams had chances, but neither had been able to find the final touch they needed to equalize until Roberto Gutierrez made a sensational play by himself. The Chilean got the ball 30 yards away with his back towards goal, but he perfectly turned his defender to get just enough room to unleash a 25 yard shot. Unleash a shot he did, rocketing it past the keeper and leveling the tie at two goals apiece.

Copa Libertadores doesn't have extra time except in the final so it looked like the two teams were headed to penalty kicks, but Fabian Estoyanoff had other thoughts. Carlos Valdez got space on the left and played a perfect cross to the back post. Estoyanoff got to it and finished well with a volley to get Penarol the winning goal just five minutes from fulltimes. The stadium went silent, but the Penarol players mobbed Estoyanoff along the sideline and for good reason. Penarol were on to the semifinals.


Universidad Catolica Vs. Penarol, 2011 Copa Libertadores: Penarol Goes Ahead Five Minutes Before Fulltime

What's more thrilling than a team pulling off a comeback in the knockout stages of a great tournament? How about a team coming back only to have the other team grab a winner five minutes from fulltime? That's what it looks like will happen as Penarol have scored not long before the final whistle to go ahead 3-2 on aggregate in the quarterfinals of Copa Libertadores against Universidad Catolica.

Penatol entered the second leg ahead 2-0, but UC had come back to level the tie at 2-2. With five minutes to go and the match looking destined for penalty kicks though, Fabian Estoyanoff got on the end of a Carlos Valdez cross and finished to put a stake through the heart of UC and their boisterous supporters than have pushed them on all night. If Penarol can hold on for just five more minutes they will be through to the semifinals, but the way this match has gone holding on is far from a guarantee.


Universidad Catolica Vs. Penarol, 2011 Copa Libertadores: Roberto Gutierrez Levels The Tie With Gorgeous Goal

Back and forth. Penarol has come so close to getting the vital away goal and making things awfully difficult on Universidad Catolica so many times, but they haven't gotten the goal they need. Meanwhile, UC have had chances too. It was the chance that didn't look like much of one that has changed the tie. An outstanding individual play by Roberto Gutierrez got UC the goal they needed to go up 2-0 in the match and level the aggregate at 2-2 in this Copa Libertadores quarterfinal.

Gutierrez received the ball nearly 30 yards from goal with his back to goal, but expertly turned the defender, got an inch of space and unleashed a shot from 25 yards that left the goalkeeper helpless. It led to massive celebrations in the stands, complete with banners and flares. What it really did though was put this tie back on level terms and with both sides pressing forward, it should be a thrilling final 20 minutes.

Because Copa Libertadores doesn't use extra time except for the final, this one could be going to penalty kicks. If neither side tallies before full time, spot kicks will decide what has been a thrilling two matches.


Universidad Catolica Vs. Penarol, 2011 Copa Libertadores: Penarol Holding Slim 2-1 Aggregate Lead At Halftime

Penarol entered the second leg of their Copa Libertadores ahead 2-0 on aggregate, putting them in good position to advance if they could play decently at Universidad Catolica. They've gone to Chile and played better than decently, but it doesn't show on the scoreboard right now and their 2-1 aggregate lead is down to 2-1 at halftime. Early pressure and what looked to be a surefire goal didn't pay off for Penarol, then Fernando Meneses tallied for UC to put all the pressure on Penarol to hold on in the second 45 minutes.

It looked like Penarol would add to their 2-0 aggregate lead just three minutes in and get a vital away goal, but Paulo Garces made a sensational fingertip save on a clever redirection. What looked to be what would have been the end of the tie with a Penarol goal wasn't and UC was still alive.

They would take advantage of that in the 17th minute when Lucas Pratto held the ball at the top of the box, fending off defenders with his back to goal. That's when he spotted Meneses making a run on the right and laid a perfectly weighted pass through the defense to him. Meneses made no mistake with the shot either, hitting it hard to the far post to get UC the first of what will need to be at least two goals.

Penarol and UC both had their chances in the rest of the half. The closest came just before the final whistle when a Penarol shot from 20 yards got through traffic in front of the goal and had the goalkeeper frozen, but just went wide of the post. UC has had their opportunities going forward, but have struggled to put them on goal, something that they will have to improve upon if they are to find at least one goal and their way into the semifinals.


2011 Copa Libertadores Quarterfinals, Second Legs: All Just A Little Bit Of History Repeating?

Strangely enough, three of the four ties in the Copa Libertadores quarterfinals looks exactly like a previous Round of 16 tie. Universidad Catolica and Peñarol might spice things up with something you've never seen before, but the other ties are giving off quite the aura of deja vu. Once Caldas looks dead in the water against another Brazilian team, Jaguares disappointed with a home draw and looks to be in trouble and Velez Sarsfield is absolutely rolling.

Could Copa actually turn the unpredictable into the entirely predictable? In the case of Once Caldas, no one gave them a chance when they fell behind to Cruzeiro. They were not taken seriously in the second leg and as a result, put together another comeback victory. In the quarterfinals, they have fallen behind to Santos and no one gives them a chance in the second leg. Where have I heard that one before?

Jaguares de Chiapas were also given little chance after drawing Atletico Junior 1-1 in Chiapas, but they drew 3-3 in Colombia to advance as part of one of the craziest games the world has ever seen. Jackson Martinez was suspended in the first game, and his return for the second game should be a massive boost to a Jaguares team who look like they might get another score draw to pull off yet another upset.

It's also the same old stuff for Velez Sarsfield, but unlike Once Caldas and Jaguares, they're dealing with much less adversity. After thrashing LDU Quito 5-0 on aggregate and doing similar damage to Libertad in the first leg of the quarterfinals with a 3-0 win, Velez are quickly asserting themselves as the best team in this tournament. 

That pesky fourth tie is interesting, though. There's certainly no recent historical precedent that makes predicting that tie easy. Peñarol were impressive in their 2-0 win at home, but UC will be serious favorites back in Chile. 


Libertad Vs. Velez Sarsfield - Wednesday, 6:30 pm ET

Santos FC Vs. Once Caldas - Wednesday, 8:50 pm ET

Universidad Chile Vs. Peñarol - Thursday, 7 pm ET

Cerro Porteño Vs. Jaguares de Chiapas - Thursday, 9:15 pm ET

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