Perhaps The Strongest is going to force everyone to learn a little more about the Bolivian clubs in the Copa Libertadores. After defeating defending champions Santos FC in their first match, they won again on Thursday against Juan Aurich. Thursday's other two games had slightly surprising results, shaking up Group 2 and Group 3.
The Strongest 2-1 Juan Aurich
Juan Aurich scored the opening goal on an embarrassing own goal by The Strongest goalkeeper Daniel Vaca, but they wouldn't do much after that. In the 23rd minute, Vaca looked to be in position to make a routine knockdown and grab on a stinging free kick, but knocked the ball between his legs and over the line. His team made up for his error three minutes later, when Sebastian Gonzalez equalized with a great chested control and volley into the back of the net. It took until the 76th minute, but Pablo Escobar eventually found a deserved winner for the hosts.
Olimpia 2-1 Lanus
Lanus have looked very good so far in 2012, but they met their match on Thursday with a tricky trip to Paraguay. Olimpia needed a home win against Lanus to feel good about their qualification chances in a group with Lanus, Flamengo and Emelec and got exactly that with a great performance. Vladimir Marin scored the opener on an incredible long free kick that looked like it was intended for a teammates' head, but went directly into the goal. Carlos Araujo netted a great equalizer in the 71st minute, stepping up from right back on a sustained attack, but Olimpia would find a winner. Marin was involved again, setting up the little Argentine and cousin of Lionel Messi, Maximiliano Biancuchi for the 79th minute goal.
Universidad Catolica 2-2 Junior
UC have gotten themselves into a little bit of trouble with a home draw against the current bottom team in Group 3. They jumped out to a 2-0 first half lead, but tried to sit on it a bit and were punished. Felipe Gutiérrez scored both goals for the Chilean side, netting the first on a free kick and the second from open play, rounding the keeper and hitting a great finish from a narrow angle. UC had a 2-0 lead after 26 minutes, but Junior would score twice in the second half.
Junior's first goal came on a howler and their second on a fluke. In the 52nd minute, a Vladimir Hernandez header somehow went straight through the hands of Cristopher Toselli. The second came off a massive deflection, with Héctor Quiñónes taking the credit. It wasn't necessarily a deserved point for Junior, but they'll take them any way they can get them. Group favorites Universidad Catolica now have just two points and sit four points behind leaders Union Española.