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Godoy Cruz de Mendoza and Peñarol played an even and scoreless first half in their Copa Libertadores openers, but the Argentinians were able to find one goal in the second half to start their campaign with a 1-0 win. Even at home, the clean sheet is a big benchmark for Godoy Cruz, who conceded 10 goals in group stage play last season as they failed to make the knockout stages.
These two teams were drawn together in the group stages last year as well, with Peñarol winning on both occasions en route to the Copa Libertadores final. The eventual runners-up were responsible for five of the 10 goals that Godoy Cruz conceded.
Their winner came in the 52nd minute, set up by Ariel Rojas with a terrific run and cross. Diego Villar, one of the best wide players in Argentina, made a great run into the box to get onto the end of the cross and hit a first-time volley into the back of the net.
In a very rare occurrence, that goal would be all they needed. Peñarol's Alejandro González picked up a second yellow card and was sent off just six minutes later. With only 10 men on the road, they were unable to find an equalizer and Godoy Cruz held on for three points.
Libertad came from behind to beat Nacional 2-1 in Montevideo to put themselves in a commanding position two games into the Copa Libertadores campaign. This match always looked like it would have a major impact on the top spot in Group 5, and although it looked as if Nacional would make its home advantage count, Libertad made the most of its second half chances to emerge victorious.
Marcos Aguirre opened the scoring in the 23rd minute after a wonderful assist by Vicente Sanchez, who got tangled up with a defender in the penalty box following good work by Tabare Viudez on the left. Sanchez ended up on his back, but did just enough to free up the ball and slide it across to Aguirre, who made no mistake from six yards out.
Libertad mounted a strong response after the break, led by Paraguay midfielder Victor Caceres. They managed to equalize on a clever counterattack, which featured two crossfield passes before Rodolfo Gammara slipped the ball into left back Miguel Samudio's path. The defender made no mistakes as he fired through Leonardo Burian's legs to make it 1-1. A few minutes later, Caceres' brilliant run led to the winner. A flick beat two players and then a pass to Victor Ayala opened up enough space for the substitute to attempt a long-range shot. It was heading wide, but the alert Mauro Caballero was able to get a faint touch on it to redirect the ball past Burian and into the back of the net.
Although Nacional mounted a strong reply, with Viudez blowing a gilt-edged chance in the 74th minute by dallying on the ball for too long, which allowed Rodrigo Munoz to make a sublime flying save, it was Libertad who looked more likely to score in the final few moments. Ultimately, the Paraguayans were full value for their win, and they'll expect to win Group 5 now after negotiating their most difficult fixture with all three points.
Matchday 2 of the Copa Libertadores continues to be bizarre. All of Universidad de Chile, Boca Juniors, Corinthians and Santos FC, almost certainly the four biggest favorites to win the competition, have failed to win. La U and Boca were both poor and couldn't score on Tuesday, but things went a bit differently for Corinthians and Santos on Wednesday. Corinthians found a late equalizer, while Santos gave away points late.
The Strongest 2-1 Santos FC
Playing in La Paz is always difficult, but Santos were still expected to get three points against The Strongest. In the early going, it appeared that they were going to do just that. Henrique scored in the 9th minute following a set piece, getting onto a deflected ball and smashing it into the back of the net to give his team a 1-0 lead.
The Strongest found their equalizer in the 33rd minute, with Enrique Parada putting in a cross for an unmarked Ernesto Cristaldo to finish. Cristaldo should have been picked up by right back Jorge Fucile, but the Uruguayan was caught flat-footed. That Danilo-Fucile swap isn't exactly working out great for Santos, while Porto are currently thrilled with the results.
The unexpected equalizer came in stoppage time, on a corner kick. The marking by Santos was abysmal and they left Rodrigo Ramallo, the man who scored with a diving header, completely unmarked.
Lanus 1-1 Flamengo
Lanus and Flamengo are both entertaining sides with outside chances to win their domestic leagues this year, and their Copa Libertadores match lived up to the billing on Wednesday. Though there was only one goal for each side, each goalkeeper made a couple of great saves, while the game also featured some brilliant narrow misses. Renato of Flamengo had a 35-yard free kick blaze over the crossbar by inches in the first half, which was followed by Juan Neira of Lanus hitting the crossbar shortly afterwards on a brilliantly worked indirect free kick.
Flamengo's goal came in first half stoppage time, and it came as the result of some terrible defending. A low cross by Júnior César inexplicably rolled by two Lanus defenders before it found the feet of Leonardo Moura, who had a simple near-post finish to make it 1-0.
Lanus' equalizer came in the 74th on a well-worked move. Substitute striker Silvio Romero started it with a low cross, which was laid off brilliantly by Mariano Pavone. That set up César Carranza with a simple finish and he powered the ball into the back of the net to salvage a point for his side.
Deportivo Tachira 1-1 Corinthians
A road draw against a decent side isn't the end of the world for Corinthians, but they'll be disappointed by the manner of the draw. They went down to Deportivo Tachira in the 21st minute on an odd set piece goal, made possible by some poor defending and goalkeeping. Sergio Herrera netted the weird pinball goal, in which Corinthians goalkeeper Julio Cesar rushed out and deflected the ball into Herrera, and Herrera's body deflected it into the net.
The equalizer came in stoppage time, and it was a deserved one. On a free kick, Ralf rose up above the Deportivo Tachira defense and hit a powerful header into the back of the net, rescuing a point and denying the hosts two points that could ultimately be the difference between elimination and qualifying for the next round.
Copa Libertadores is a weird competition where nothing makes sense. Even though they are clearly two of the best teams in the competition, Boca Juniors and Universidad de Chile both struggled on Tuesday night. It's worth noting that Santos FC got off to a poor start last year, rallied back to advance out of their group, and went on to win the competition. Still, not a good look, guys.
Zamora 0-0 Boca Juniors
This game had seven shots. The home side, Zamora, took two of them. Santiago Silva hit the post in the final minute, just narrowly missing out on the game-winner. And that was all that happened. For all of his successes, Jorge Falcioni does not get his teams to play a particularly entertaining brand of football.
Defensor Sporting 2-0 Deportivo Quito
After suffering a 3-0 home loss to Velez last week, this home win was much needed for Defensor. Deportivo Quito were actually the more ambitious side for much of this match and will be disappointed that they let more road points slip away. They have one point from two games, and should probably have four.
Atletico Nacional 2-0 Universidad de Chile
La U had one attempted shot. The Sudamericana and Chilean champions, the team that plays the most attacking and ambitious football out of all of the top teams in South America had one shot. I'm not going to attempt to explain this.
Universidad de Chile, Boca Juniors, Corinthians and Flamengo all get their Copa Libertadores campaigns underway this week.