Weekly Round-Up: All of the action from Matchday 1 in the CONMEBOL Libertadores Group Stage

A look back at all of the action from Matchday 1 in the Libertadores Group Stage


Group A


Independiente del Valle picked up an impressive 3-0 win away against fellow Ecuadorian side Barcelona in their opening game of this year’s Libertadores.  
 
Barcelona were the revelation of this year’s opening phases with their incisive, pacey counter attacks that were finished off in style by talented Fidel Martinez, scorer of 8 goals already this Libertadores. Barcelona have shown they don’t need extended spells of possession to hurt their opponents and once again they relied on the counter against IDV. 
 
Independiente del Valle remained defensively resolute and dominated possession on Tuesday night. Lively Gabriel Torres calmly finished off a wonderfully patient passing move to give IDV the advantage. A red card for Barcelona’s Pineida late in the game eased the pressure for the visitors, who doubled their lead through a sharp Christian Ortiz finish before captain Cristian Pellerano topped off a strong performance from the penalty spot in the final minute. 

Reigning Libertadores champions Flamengo also started this year’s tournament on the front foot with a hard fought victory away in Colombia against Junior
 
Junior’s Metropolitano stadium was jumping before kick-off but a calm finish from Everton Ribeiro early in the game brought the fans back down to earth. The Colombians started slowly and looked a little overwhelmed by the occasion in the opening twenty minutes. 

It looked as though it may be a comfortable win for the fancied Brazilians but Junior dug in and by halftime will be disappointed not to have drawn the game level. In the second half the home side pushed for the winner with Teofilo Gutierrez and Miguel Borja both coming close. 
 
The game was physical and demanding but Flamengo showed why they currently hold the trophy, holding firm in defense and then breaking away to secure the three points. Everton Ribeiro showed great composure to score on the counter attack with ten minutes remaining. 

Junior continued to press for the goal and their efforts were rewarded in the final seconds as Teo Guttierez reduced the defecit. Flamengo will be happy with the points and the Colombians can be proud of a spirited, competitive performance against one of the continents strongest sides. 


Group B


Guaraní and Palmeiras both picked up impressive 2-0 wins with a couple of professional performances in the opening round of games. 

The Paraguayans thought they had made the perfect start against Bolívar when Raúl Bobadilla volleyed into the bottom corner. Celebrations were briefly delayed as it became clear the referee had already given the home side a penalty. Cristian Baez calmly stepped up and dispatched the penalty to settle any nerves in La Nueva Olla. 
 
Powerful striker Raul Bobadilla finally got his chance to celebrate early in the second half, firing a beautiful shot beyond the keeper from distance. 
 
Palmeiras meanwhile picked up a tidy 2-0 win away against a very motivated Tigre side with passionate support. Classy striker Luiz Adriano fired the Brazilians ahead with a powerful finish from the edge of the box. 

A red card for Acuña helped Palmeiras in their quest to see out the result and the tie was won when Wilian struck another excellent long-range effort to double their advantage. 


Group C


Jorge Wilstermann secured a good home win against Colo Colo in the altitude of Cochabamba. The Bolivians controlled possession and threatened the Chileans goal in the first half, without creating anything clear cut. 

They broke the deadlock ten minutes into the second half as a long-range effort was deflected high into the sky for Ricardo Pedriel to jump highest and head beyond the outrushing Cortes in the Colo Colo goal. 

Colo Colo tried to battle back into the game but Wilstermann stayed solid at the back. It was in fact the Bolivians who would score next late on to finish the job. Balliviain powered a header against the bar from close range which rebounded of the unfortunate Cortes to give Wilstermann the 2-0 win. 

Despite some resolute defending from visitors PeñarolAthletico Paranaense finally made the breakthrough and secured the three points in their opening game of this year’s Libertadores. 
 
The Brazilians look to have a strong, dynamic classy team this year but Uruguayans looked like they might secure themselves an impressive away point until a moment of magic stole the right. 
 
Nikão dropped a stepover bamboozling his marker and then whipped in a low cross that was elegantly finished by Guilherme Bissoli. The 22 year old striker hooked the cross between his legs and sent it inside the far post to give the Brazilians a solid win in their opener. 


Group D


With a domestic league title up for grabs this weekend, River Plate rotated for their Libertadores and were blown away by an impressive LDU Quito side. 

Liga de Quito played some very impressive dynamic, attacking football and created a lot of opportunities from wide areas. Franklin Guerra headed the home side ahead early and Cristian Martinez Borja tapped in a low cross from the left to make it two in the first half. 

River keeper Enrique Bologna was sent off for handling outside of his area and moments later River were penalized for another handball which gave LDU a penalty. Junior Sornoza calmly dispatched to finish off an excellent night for the hosts. 

River Plate will surely come back stronger than this once the Argentine title is decided but LDU Quito will take huge confidence from a comprehensive win. 

Making their LIbertadores debut Peruvian champions Binacional shocked São Paulo for a 2-1 win, using the thin air of Juliaca to their advantage, scoring a pair of second half goals. São Paulo took the lead through Alexandre Pato after some nice play from Libertadores debutante Dani Alves, but the Brazilains were wasteful with a handful of opportunities that could've put the match away late on in the first half.

The Peruvians made São Paulo pay, first with a tight angle finish from Martínez and then with a tremendous strike from distance from Johan Arango. 

While both River and São Paulo will be confident of their ability to bounce back in this group, the early signs suggest this group could be tighter than initially expected. 


Group E


Both sides of Porto Alegre could celebrate this week as the Brazilian rivals both recorded wins to sit on top of Group E. 

Grêmio got an impressive 2-0 win away against Colombian champions América de Cali

The visitors took the lead with a touch of good fortune as a freekick deflected into the path of Victor Ferraz who made no mistake. Chasing the game, América pushed for the equalizer but Grêmio’s quality was always going to post a threat on the break. 
 
Early in the second half the visitors doubled their lead with an excellent long-range Matheus Henrique drive into the far corner. 

 
Internacional started very lively and really tested Universidad Catolica’s defensive resolve. The Chileans stayed strong and once the early flourish had abated started settle into the game before the break. 

But Internacional’s Peruvian striker Paolo Guerrero was in fine form and was key in securing the three points. A Guerrero freekick on 62 minutes was deflected beyond Dituro to give the Brazilians the lead and just a few minutes later he finished calmly to put the home side in control. The talismanic striker set up Marcos Guilherme for a third to secure the points. 
 
Next week the Brazilian leaders meet in Porto Alegre while both Catolica and America will look to get their campaign back on track with three points. 


Group F


Racing rallied for a 2-1 win against a spirited Estudiantes de Mérida side on Thursday in Venezuela. José Rivas forced home a far post cross right after half time to give the hosts the lead, and it looked as though it may just stick, but Racing took advantage of some lax defending on a pair of throw-ins to turn the score around.

First, Reniero stooped low to head Racing level, then with less than 10 minutes to play, Matías Zaracho swept a cross from Eugenio Mena into the back of the net for the final tally of 2-1.

The week's final action featured Nacional scoring early against Alianza Lima then holding on to claim all three points. Nacional scored with just 11 seconds played, pouncing on a Alianza Lima defense that failed to deal with a long ball played right from the off. 

Alianza pressured for the remainder of the evening but failed to make their pressure count, with some impressive saves from Nacional's Luís Mejía denying the Peruvians an equalizer. Despite just 29.9% possession (least among any of the 32 sides this week) Nacional took all 3 points away from home, an impressive start to group play.


Group G


Santos came out on top of a lively, high intensity affair against an enthusiastic Defensa y Justicia side making their Libertadores debut. 
 
Juan Gabriel Rodriguez headed the home side in front just before the whistle blew to end the first half. The second half was as frantic as the first but it would be the Brazilians who would strike next. 

Classy Soteldo cut inside and bent a cross towards the near post for Jobson Souza to divert an acrobatic diving header beyond Unsain in the Defensa y Justicia goal. 
 
The Argentines pushed to regain their advantage but Santos ultimately scored the winner late on with Kaio Jorge running through on goal and finishing. 

In Ecuador despite plenty of good attacking football the night was defined by two defensive errors. Early in the game Conga inadvertently headed beyond his own goalkeeper to give Olimpia the lead. Olimpia looked impressive but Delfín stayed in the game and their efforts were rewarded in the second half as Martin Alaniz pounced on a defensive error to equalize. 


Group H


Libertad started Group H on the front foot with an impressive win away in Medellin against Independiente Medellín

Daniel Bocanegra once played for DIM and became a fan favorite at their city rivals Atlético Nacional. He scored within three minutes of his return to the Atanasio for Libertad to give the Paraguayans an early lead. Medellin looked to recover but a moment of quality and composure from Oscar Cardozo doubled the lead of the visitors. 

Jesus Murillo pulled one back for the home side but this organized Libertad side were able to manage the game and pick up a valuable three points in their opener. 

Argentine giants Boca Juniors found it tough away against Caracas, who battled back to secure a point in their first game of this year’s Libertadores. Ramon Ábila gave Boca a first half lead before Robert Hernandez fired a spectacular freekick to equalize for the Venezuelans. 

Boca pushed for a winner but Caracas stayed strong to ensure the points were shared. 

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