Weekly Round-Up: Third stage set after dramatic week of Libertadores Action

Take a look back at the week that was in the CONMEBOL Libertadores, featuring upsets, penalty shootouts, and much more.

Sixteen teams started the week still in contention for the final four spots in the group stage of the 2020 Libertadores, but by the end of it those sixteen had been cut to eight, often in dramatic fashion. 

Wednesday was the day that provided the most drama, with the late session in particular serving up a pair of dramatic finishes. 

In São Paulo, Guaraní repeated their magical performance from five years ago against Corinthains, losing 2-1 on the night, but doing enough to advance to the third phase on away goals. 

As expected, Corinthians started hot in front of a near capacity crowd at the Arena Corinthians in São Paulo. Within 10 minutes Luan had scored the opener, and despite being reduced to ten men with half an hour played after Pedrinho picked up an early second yellow card, Mauro Boselli found himself in acres of space to turn the tie around for Corinthians, all within the first half of play. 

However, Guaraní’s first leg clean sheet loomed large as the two sides came out of halftime, with the visitors in need of just a single goal to find themselves in front of the tie again. A free-kick in a dangerous area provided the chance Guaraní needed, and it was Fernando Fernández, the same man who scored the winner in São Paulo in 2015, who stepped up and put his effort into the back of the net. 

Following that effort, Corinthians pushed heavily to score again, a goal that would send them through, but some timely saves from the Guaraní defense, including one in a scramble situation late on, sealed their spot in the third phase. 

Guaraní will face Palestino for a spot in Group B after the Chileans ran out 5-1 winners against Cerro Largo on Wednesday in Santiago. Palestino’s win was highlighted by a potential goal of the tournament effort from Agustín Farías: 

Farías added another late on to cap off an impressive performance from the hosts, who will surely feel they can carry their momentum on into next week’s action. 

Wednesday’s other drama came courtesy of Atlético Tucumán and The Strongest, with the Argentines winning 2-0 to force penalties, then dramatically coming out on top 6-5 in the shootout. 

Marcelo Ortiz scored a glancing header in the first half while Leonardo Heredia scored in the second half to give the Argentines the victory, but some timely saves from The Strongest GK Daniel Vaca helped force penalties. 

Vaca saved Tucumán’s first effort, and then managed to get a foot on another effort but failed to keep it out. The first four takers all converted for the Bolivians, but with a chance to put the tie away, Panamanian Rolando Blackburn’s penalty was saved by Christian Lucchetti (who himself had scored earlier in the shootout). Each side’s sixth taker converted, but after a conversion from Tucumán’s Marcelo Ortiz, The Strongest’s Saul Torres’ effort was saved, pushing the hosts into the third phase.  

Tucumán will face Independiente Medellín, who advanced despite a 2-0 defeat to Deportivo Táchira on Tuesday night. A 4-0 first leg win was enough to send the Colombians comfortably through, though they’ll no doubt need a stronger performance next week if they want to advance to the group stage. 

A second Colombian side will also feature in the third phase in the form of Deportes Tolima, who advanced after a 2-0 aggregate win over Macará. Jaminton Campaz, as he did in the first leg, scored from outside the box to seal Tolima’s victory. 

Tolima will face Internacional, who advanced by Universidad de Chile with a 2-0 win in Porto Alegre. The Chileans defended well to open up the second leg, but were undone by a poor defensive play right on halftime that allowed Boschilla to pounce and put Internacional in front. 

Marcos Guilherme added an impressive individual effort to finish off the Chileans and move Internacional one step closer to a potential Porto Alegre derby in the group stage of the Libertadores. 

The final third phase tie will feature Barcelona, who despite another goal from Fidel Martínez fell 2-1 to Sporting Cristal in Lima while advancing 5-2 on aggregate, and Cerro Porteño, 1-0 winners over Universitario thanks to a well-taken goal by Federico Carrizo.