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A brand new feature on this website is the introduction of weekly & fortnightly columns focusing on various leagues, countries and regions across the World. Tom Robinson gives an overview of the talking points in South American football.
Rosario Central walked away with the bragging rights after defeating bitter rival Newell’s Old Boys 2-0 in the Gigante de Arroyo. Franco Niell headed Central ahead and Nery Dominguez doubled their advantage before half time. Any hope of a comeback for Newell’s – who haven’t won a clasico since 2008 – were abandoned when Ignacio Scocco was sent off and substitute Leandro Figueroa also saw red in the dying minutes. Unfortunately, there were ugly scenes outside the stadium too as two Central fans were killed in separate incidents while eight fans were also injured.
Elsewhere, River got back to winning ways after a tricky start to the month with consecutive league wins over Newell’s, Belgrano and Rafaela to keep their four point cushion at the top of the table. Lanus and Independiente are still in the hunt, with Racing and Boca further back still, but face an uphill struggle to dethrone the impressive Millonarios with six games to go.
Things are heating up in the Copa Sudamericana – the continent’s Europa League equivalent – with all the quarter finalists now decided as we reach the business end of the tournament. There is a strong Argentinian contingent left in the competition with three teams still in contention. Hilario Navarro was the hero for Estudiantes as the La Plata side beat Peñarol on penalties after a 3-3 draw with the Uruguayan giants over two legs and will now face compatriots River Plate, who cruised past Libertad 5-1 on aggregate. Like River, Boca also triumphed over Paraguayan opposition as they squeezed past Deportivo Capiatá on penalties with goalkeeper Agustin Orion saving two and scoring one.
Paraguay’s sole representative in the latter stages will be Cerro Porteño who disposed off reigning champions Lanus 3-2 and set up an exciting clash against Boca in the quarters. Sao Paulo were the only one of four Brazilian sides to progress after beating Chileans Huachipato 4-2 and now face a tricky tie with Ecuadorian side Emelec. Finally, Colombians Atletico Nacional emerged victorious after a narrow 3-2 win over Vitoria and will fancy their chances against Peruvian outfit Cesar Vallejo.
Colo Colo clasico triumph tightens title race in Chile
Colo Colo closed the gap on Universidad de Chile with a 2-0 victory in the ‘Clasico del futbol chileno’. Los Albos inflicted a first defeat of the season for La U thanks to second half strikes from the in-form Esteban Paredes and Jean Beausejour that now leaves them only two points behind their cross town neighbours. In a typically heated contest, Universidad de Chile had experienced defenders Jose Manuel Rojas and Osvaldo Gonzalez sent off.
Universidad de Chile returned to winning ways this weekend with a 2-1 victory at home to Palestino but defending champions Colo Colo kept the pressure on with a 2-0 win away at Union La Calera to ensure that the title will go right down to the wire with five games remaining. Hot on their heels are form side Santiago Wanderers who recorded their fifth straight victory thanks to a brace from Roberto Gutierrez.
Rogerio Ceni breaks record, Cruzeiro wobble continues
Veteran Sao Paulo goalkeeper Rogerio Ceni broke Ryan Giggs’ record of most wins for a single club on Monday night after a 3-0 win over Goias. The 41-year-old, who also scored the 123rd goal of his career with a beautifully flighted free kick against Bahia recently, has now won 590 games for O Tricolor since making his debut 22 years ago and will hang up his gloves for good at the end of the year.
The win also takes Ceni’s Sao Paulo up to 2nd in the Brasileiro, six points behind leaders Cruzeiro who, with seven games remaining, are stumbling their way towards back-to-back titles. The reigning champions have hit a rough patch with only one win and five points from their last five games but none of their rivals have made them pay yet. A cup double is also on the cards for A Raposa after they scraped past ABC in the quarters to set up a mouth-watering semi-final against Santos, while Flamengo take on Atletico Mineiro in the other semi.
Talent Radar Spotlight:
Cerro Porteño’s Óscar Romero has had a brilliant fortnight, weighing in with four goals in four games. The left sided midfielder scored all three goals in a 3-2 aggregate Copa Sudamericana win over reigning champions Lanus to take the Paraguayans through to the quarter finals, while also netting against Deportivo Capiatá in the league. Romero, 22, is one of an interesting generation of young Paraguayans and will join twin brother Angel at Corinthians in the new year. Also, keep an eye out for Cerro Porteño’s 15-year-old wonderkid Sergio Diaz who has already bagged four goals in 12 appearances for el Ciclon.
Written by Tom Robinson