Weekly Round-Up: Tight First Leg Action Sets Up Dramatic Return Legs Next Week in Quest for Group Stage

Third phase action kicked off with a series of tight encounters across the continent, a sign of the pressure facing each team with a spot in the group stage hanging in the balance.


Action kicked off in Medellín on Tuesday night with Independiente Medellín coming out 1-0 winners against Atlético Tucumán. Andrés Ricaurte’s composed effort midway through the opening half of play ended up proving to be the difference between the two sides.

A tightly played second forty-five minutes will leave both sides feeling well and truly in the tie. DIM may regret coming away with only a 1-0 win, while Tucumán could be left ruing their lack of an away goal. An early away goal for DIM in the second leg could be too much for Tucumán to overcome, while the hosts will know that a 1-0 win would send them to penalties yet again. 

Wednesday’s action lacked a bundle of goals but didn’t lack tension, with Internacional again playing out a 0-0 first leg draw, this time with Deportes Tolima of Colombia. 

The Colombians bossed much of the match, but the best chances fell to the Brazilians late on, forcing Tolima goalkeeper Álvaro Montero into some important saves to keep things level. Internacional’s Andrés D’Alessandro came off the bench for his 85th all-time Libertadores appearance, tied most among Argentines all time.   

The first goal in next week’s return leg in Porto Alegre will be a big one. If Internacional get it, they’ve shown they have the defensive resolve to make that result stick. If Tolima get it, Inter would all of the sudden need to score twice to go through.

In Guayaquil, Barcelona downed Cerro Porteño 1-0 and there was no surprise where Barcelona’s goal came from, as Fidel Martínez bagged his sixth of the competition, potting a first half free-kick that proved to be the difference.

Martínez had a chance to add to his total in the second half, but left a glancing header off target. Cerro Porteño’s best chances came late on, and despite the defeat, the Paraguayans will consider themselves squarely in the tie heading into next week’s return leg in Asunción.

The week wrapped up in Chile where Guaraní of Paraguay topped hosts Palestino 1-0 behind a goal from Rodney Redes. Guaraní's victory looked far from a sure thing thanks to a second yellow card in the first half for Fernando Barrientos, but Redes struck right on half-time to give the Paraguayans a surprising lead. 

Palestino pushed for an equalizer, but with key midfielder Luís Giminez not in the lineup, the Chileans lacked the tenacity in the final third necessary to scrape an equalizer. Though down on aggregate, a single goal away from home next week would bring the tie right back into play.