Copa Libertadores came back in impressive fashion on Tuesday, featuring a game that encompasses everything that the tournament is about. Montevideo Wanderers and Zamora are probably just happy to be here, and they're making the most of their trip to South America's biggest club competition by putting on a show.
We also got to see Internacional, one of the tournament favorites, seriously humbled by a team with the lung capacity to run for 90 minutes in the Andes. Deportivo Tachira took a whooping. Universidad de Chile would have taken a whooping if Emelec could shoot. Club Atlas let everyone down.
Here's what happened Tuesday night in Copa Libertadores.
Wanderers and Zamora turn in the most Copa Lib game ever
What's more Copa Libertadores than a game with five goals? A game with five red cards. Wanderers' Juan Mascia and Adrian Colombino got straight reds, as did Angel Faria and John Murillo of Zamora, so they'll all miss the next two games. Luis Ovalle's sending off for Zamora was only a second yellow, so luckily they'll have him back to face Boca Juniors.
While Wanderers came away with the victory and the better chance to advance out of a tough group, it was Zamora who won our hearts. Their coach sucked on a lollipop on the sidelines and Arles Flores gave us this fantastic goal and celebration.
Maybe La U stink
Universidad de Chile are usually knockout stage participants at the Copa Libertadores, and they appeared to have a good enough squad to make a deep run again. Instead, they're in serious trouble after just one game, having lost at home to Emelec, who was a decent bet to finish with the lowest points total in Group 4. They were outplayed for the entire match and were only kept in it for so long because the Ecuadorians weren't great in front of goal. Late red cards for Fernando Gimenez and John Narvaez gave La U a chance, but they couldn't capitalize, even up two men.
It's been a bad month for La U, but it's not uncommon for teams to have bad seasons domestically during the Libertadores. But, on the evidence of this game, those performances in Chile were part of a bigger problem.
Playing in La Paz is still awful
The Strongest have the most baller team name in Copa Lib, and they play at Estadio Hernando Siles, an absolutely ridiculous 11,932 feet above sea level. If you're wondering why that's legal, it's not like there's too much space to build on below 10,000 feet in La Paz. This is basically what they're stuck with.
Internacional clearly didn't know what they were getting into and conceded two goals pretty fast before getting it together. They employed the very intelligent strategy of giving it everything they had from the halftime whistle, pulling back a goal, but they couldn't get a second. By the 75th minute, they were totally winded, and by the 85th they'd conceded again. Our aforementioned friends Universidad de Chile and Emelec might have even less fun in La Paz.
Who needs Adrian Centurion?
Racing Club sold their best player to São Paulo this winter, but they dropped five goals on the road in their Libertadores opener. It's too early to say that their attack is still great without Centurion -- they were held scoreless by Rosario Central in their Argentine Primera opener -- but they can still get out of their Copa Lib group. They're lucky it's the weakest one in the tournament.
More Copa Lib
More Copa Lib
Santa Fe got a much-needed win ... and Atlas are screwed
With Atletico Mineiro in their group, home wins against the other two teams were a virtual must if Club Atlas wanted to advance to the knockout stage. Instead, Mexico's hopes are now squarely on the shoulders of Tigres UANL, thanks to Santa Fe's 1-0 win in Guadalajara.
Atlas were the better team for the first 75 minutes, but were bad in front of goal. Santa Fe scored with their first real chance and it was game over. Atlas won't be matching Tijuana's 2013 or Jaguares' 2011 run to the quarterfinals, and certainly not Chivas' weird H1N1-assisted finals appearance from 2010. They're not coming back from this loss.
Universidad de Chile 0-1 Emelec
Montevideo Wanderers 3-2 Zamora
Deportivo Tachira 0-5 Racing Club
The Strongest 3-1 Internacional
Club Atlas 0-1 Santa Fe