Copa Libertadores: Alvaro Recoba's Nacional stun Vasco at home as Union Espanola and Cruz Azul both win

The ex-Inter Milan forward's Uruguayan outfit overwhelmed a sub-standard Alvinegro in Rio de Janeiro to go top of the tricky group five
Nacional (PAR)
Cruz Azul
Cruz Azul got their Copa Libertadores campaign off to the perfect start with a win away against a spirited Nacional side. The group six game was played at Libertad’s Dr Nicolas Leoz stadium as Nacional’s home ground does not meet continental requirements.

La Maquina were ahead within six minutes after a slick interchange around the Nacional box. Former Derby County striker Emanuel Villa dinked the ball into Christian Gimenez who laid it across the face of goal, offering Javier Orozco a simple tap in.

Nacional responded to going behind magnificently and Ricardo Mazacotte, Rodrigo Teixera and Silvio Torales all went close in quick succession. But after Alejandro Vela’s poor clearance fell into the path of Ariel Bogado the striker equalised, drilling the ball in low at the near post. However, the game was only level for eight minutes. German Caffa spilled Gerardo Torrado’s shot and Orozco pounced on the rebound to bag a brace.

La Academia searched for a way back in the second half but for all their impressive football, they failed to hit the back of the net again. The Paraguayans must wait until March 8 to earn their first points but face a tough trip to Sao Paulo to face Corinthians. Cruz Azul will play Deportivo Tachira in their next group game in two weeks time.

Union Espanola
Los Diablos Rojos outclassed their Colombian opposition at Estadio Santa Laura, taking all three points in an impressive display. Their imperious form continued as they went top of group three and could have won the game by a bigger margin.

The hosts were quick out of the blocks but Sebastian Jaime missed the target on two occasions in the opening 15 minutes. As they failed to find the net, the Colombians worked their way back into the game but produced nothing to worry Eduardo Lobos in the opposition goal.

The Chileans continued to press relentlessly and eventually the breakthrough came in the 65th minute, and it was a quick-fire double. Fernando Cordero's corner was ficked on by Jaime and Emanuel Herrera bundled the ball over the line. Then just one minute later Cordero attempted to stand the ball up at the far post but instead found the back of the net.

A last-ditch interception by Brayner Garcia and a great save by Sebastian Viera from Herrera kept the score respectable come full time. Union Espanola travel to La Paz in a fortnight to face Bolivar and Junior will come up against another Chilean opponent, Universidad Catolica, in the same week.

Vasco da Gama
Nacional (URU)
Nacional secured what could be an invaluable three points against the Alvinegro in a fascinating group five tie at Sao Januario. The Uruguayans fought hard for their win, surviving a late scare from the shellshocked Brazilians.

The visitors closed the Vasco midfield with great intensity, stopping them controlling the game and they stunned the home crowd when they took the lead in the 30th minute. The ever reliable Dede made a rare mistake when he turned the ball into his own net from a corner.

Vasco were being exposed in the wide areas and they fell two goals behind within 90 seconds of the restart. Tabare Viudez looked up and crossed for an unmarked Vicente Sanchez who found the goal with a diving header. Sanchez spurned a golden opportunity to make it 3-0 when he fired over an open goal after rounding Fernando Prass.

Alexis Rolin was unmovable in defence for the Albos but Vasco managed to claw a goal back with 20 minutes to play. In their only chance of the half, Alecsandro beat a static Christian Nunez to Juninho Pernambucano’s cross and fired into the roof of the net. Carlos Tenorio then saw his potential leveller ruled out correctly for offside and Renato Silva was red carded from the bench.

Nacional held on for the win and will travel to Paraguay next week for another tricky match against Libertad. Vasco will host Allianza Lima in what will already be a must-win in four weeks time.