This season’s Copa Libertadores has been an amazing concoction of comedy, drama and pure unadulterated entertainment. In short, here are some of the best moments of the tournament so far:
Neymar’s hat-trick against Internacional
The boy wonder was at it again, this time against fellow Brazilian counterparts Internacional. Neymar gave Inter right-back Nei a night that will still haunt his dreams.
Crazy ending to the Olimpia – Emelec
Group 2 threw up the most drama on the final match day of the group stages. Lanus had already secured their entry through to the knock-out stages and it was left between Olimpia, Emelec and Flamengo to tough it out for second spot. Olimpia was in control and a win for them against Emelec would see them through to the next round regardless of the other result. Flamengo needed to beat already qualified Lanus and hope Olimpia and Emelec play to a draw. Emelec, big outsiders to go through, had to beat Olimpia to progress. Flamengo’s game went smoothly, they made quick work of top place Lanus by beating them 3-0 and the players gathered at the centre-circle, waited on news from the Olimpia-Emelec to hear their fate. Olimpia, as expected, had taken a first half lead. Emelec came out in the second half though will all guns blazing. They equalized on the 67th minute before taking the lead very late on in the 88th minute. The scenes back in Brazil were one of disappointment. The last-minute goal for Emelec meant they were out after looking like the draw had put them through. Then, Olimpia equalise in the 2nd minute of injury time and the Flamnego fans start to dance and sing again, their players congratulating each other on the pitch. Emelec had one last arrow in their quiver though, scoring on the 93rd minute with a header from a corner. The Emelec players went wild and ran to their manager. That goal drained Olimpia of everything they had and scenes of the Flamengo players turned from one of joy to despair. Emelec, thanks to only themselves, had gained entry into the next round of the Copa Libertadores.
A Screamer In Lima
Vasco da Gama went away to a tricky tie in Peru against Allianza Lima. A win would secure qualification for Vasco. Felipe Bastos opened the scoring with an effort that looped over the goalkeeper from outside with the aid of a big deflection. The 21-year-old Brazilian then doubled Vasco’s lead with a rasping drive from distance on the 71st minute, his second of the night. The strike was unstoppable, struck with venom and swerving away from the goalkeeper. Vasco won the game 2-1, an important away victory.
Group 8 In General
As the groups were drawn, many anticipated group 8 the most tantalising. The group consisted of last years’ finalists Penarol, Chilean powerhouse Universidad de Chile, Colombian giants Atletico Nacional and Nery Pumpido’s Godoy Cruz. The group opened with a bang, Ateltico Nacional went away to Penarol and won 0-4.
Universidad de Chile, not to be outdone, thumped Godoy Cruz 5-1 in their opening match. Godoy Cruz’ home game to AlteticoNacnioal also served up another goalfest, this time finishing 4-4. The game looked as though Pabon had done enough to win it for AtleticoNacional before Godoy Cruz provided the equalizer at the death to make it 4-4.
In Atletico Nacional’s home game against Penarol, the tournament’s top goalscorer, Dorlan Pabon, provided the goal of the group with a thunderous drive from over 30 yards out in the 3-0 win for Atletico.
The final game of the group was Universidad de Chile at home game against Atletico Nacional. The Chileans had to win the game to top the group ahead of Atletico. UDC started furiously and opened the scoring with a lovely passing move finished off with a shot hammered from the edge of the box into the far corner. It took Atletico Nancional a while to get going but they significantly improved in the second half, grabbing an equaliser through a thunderous Pabon strike on the 63rd minute (the commentator in the video shown goes into hysterics for a good two minutes when Pabon equalises). Universidad de Chile are not one to relent, they upped the tempo again, making it 2-1 on the 69th minute with a delightful reverse header from defender Osvaldo Gonzales. That was enough to win the game and as a result, top Group 8.
The Copa Libertadores entered the knock-out rounds this week and therefore still has a long way to go before it’s conclusion this season but there will certainly be more drama to be had by all before then.