Copa Libertadores 2012: Libertad and La U draw whilst poor weather mars the all-Brazilian tie

Libertad and Uni. de Chile draw in their first leg, whilst heavy rain spoilt Corinthians' tie in Rio against Vasco da Gama.
Universidad de Chile

La U left Asuncion with a well-deserved first leg draw following Gustavo Lorenzetti’s equaliser after Victor Caceres’ early goal for Libertad.

Libertad started very brightly and within the first minute Jose Nunez was put through on goal but could only manage a scuffed finish across goal.

With just eight minutes on the clock, Nunez was again involved and after some effective hold-up play on the edge of the box, he played a good ball to Luciano Civelli who struck a low pass across the 6-yard box for Victor Caceres to slide past Jhonny Herrera to grab an early advantage.

Following their early goal, Libertad dropped their intensity and sat back, with their midfield dropping much deeper. This invited Uni. de Chile to press much more and only a fantastic point-blank save from Munoz, who had a very good game, stopped Henriquez from equalising.

In what was a fairly even first half, Libertad found a lot of joy down their left as Miguel Samudio often found himself in space behind the three-man backline of La U. The Paraguayan side were especially dangerous when they broke with pace.

Following the half time break, La U emerged positively and grabbed an equaliser just ten minutes following the interval. For the first time in the match, Gustavo Lorenzetti found himself in space in front of the Libertad defence. Picking the ball up 25-yards out, he had time to set himself and strike a firm shot which was deflected before finding the bottom corner past the unfortunate Munoz.

The remainder of the game was played out without much action as the tempo of the game slowed. With just stoppage time left, La U’s substitute, Emilio Hernandez, was shown a harsh red card for a slide tackle. This decision exemplified what was a poor performance from the referee, who made some odd decisions throughout the match.

Despite the performance, La U will be pleased with the result and will no doubt expect to qualify next week on the return leg in Santiago as they hold home advantage.

Vasco da Gama

In a game which was marred by poor pitch conditions, neither side were able to break the deadlock in the all-Brazilian clash in Rio.

Following hours of heavy rain, the Sao Januario pitch was saturated, meaning that both teams found keeping substantial possession difficult.

In a dreary first half, Corinthians’ Emerson looked the brightest as he regularly threatened down the left flank. However, the best chance of the half came from a direct free kick which was struck firmly by Alex. As the ball dipped towards goal, Prass could not hold on it and the ball was parried back into the box and cleared.

With the pitch conditions worsening, both sides continued to struggle to create many openings due to the uneven run of the ball on the surface.

On the stroke of half time, Corinthians again went close. Collecting the ball from deep with his back to goal, Paulinho held the ball up well before playing through the overlapping Alessandro, who stormed into the box, and shot wide.

Following the break, Vasco da Gama returned to the field much more offensively and began to find success down the right flank as Eder Luis saw much more of the ball. From outside the box, Diego Souza played in Alecsandro, who took a heavy touch and his weak shot dribbled into Cassio Ramos’ hands.

Jorge Henrique had the best opportunity of the match to put his side ahead, only denied by a superb save from Fernando Prass. Charging through two challenges, Henrique got his shot off, rebounding towards Emerson on the left of the box, who played the ball back inside first time. As the ball entered the 6-yard box, Henrique dived low and headed towards the near post, but Prass was equal to it and pulled off a miraculous reaction save. As the ball rebounded back into the area, Danilo met it at the edge of the box and struck the foot of the post and then cleared following a goalmouth scramble.

With just minutes remaining, Diego Souza was incorrectly ruled offside after heading past Cassio Ramos.

The return leg will take place on Wednesday 23rd, and Corinthians will be looking to make the most of their home advantage in Sao Paolo. However, Vasco da Gama will be left fuming following an incorrect decision from the linesman cost them the chance of victory.