Goal.com’s Tim Sturtridge reports from Buenos Aires as the new look Argentina is revealed ahead of the World Cup and the Copa Sudamericana semi-final line-up is decided...
Fred maintained his hot scoring streak to guide Fluminense past Universidad de Chile and book a place in the semi-finals of the Copa Sudamericana.
The tie was on a knife edge after a gripping first leg in Brazil, which finished all square a fortnight ago. In that game an own goal from Victorino and yet another strike from Fred put Fluminense 2-0 up the night.
The Chilean league runners-up showed great reserve in coming up with two goals away from home in six second half minutes to level the tie at its midway point.
Fluminense were clearly still stinging from surrendering their two goal advantage in the first tie and looked keen to make amends from the off in Chile.
Early on in the second leg Maicon tested Pinto in the home goal, while Fred shot over with his first sight of target on the night.
The hosts showed little attacking threat, but if anyone stood out for them in the game it would be Angel Rojas, who looked to pull the strings in midfield.
Despite Fluminense’s dominance, it took until the hour mark for them to turn their superior possession into anything tangible. The goal saw great link up play between the Brazilian’s strike partnership as a cross from Maicon was nodded home by Fred.
The goal seemed to liberate the away side, and once they took the lead they looked in no danger of letting the tie slip away from them once again.
With a place in the semi-finals against Cerro Porteno of Paraguay secured, Cuca’s team must now turn their attention back to domestic matters as they sit second from bottom in the Brazilian league.
Despite their lowly position, optimism is high around Laranjeiras as they prepare to face league leaders Palmeiras at the weekend.
After avoiding defeat to Universidad the outfit from Rio remain unbeaten in eight games and are demonstrating the kind of form that should steer them clear of the relegation berths.
Copa Sudamericana Holders March On In Quito
Liga de Quito suffocated Velez Sarsfield’s Copa Sudamericana run with two late goals at the giddy height of 2,800 meters above sea level.
After a goal apiece in the first leg in Buenos Aires, the sides again were evenly matched in the opening stages of the return game.
Ricardo Gareca’s visitors set up with an attacking 4-3-3 system as they sought the precious away goal that would get them back into the tie. As the game ebbed and flowed through the first half there were chances at both ends, but it was the Argentines who drew first blood just seconds before the interval.
Good work down the left from Maximiliano Moralez released international full-back Emiliano Papa, who managed to toss in a cross of quality from the byline. The centre was not cut out at the near post by Liga de Quito’s defence, and Rodrigo Lopez got the telling touch as the ball went in off the far stick.
The timing of the goal allowed Gareca to rethink his half-time team-talk and the away side came out for the second period in a far more cautious mood. Velez, camping out on the edge of their own box, suited the home team fine. As the second half wore on, Liga de Quito started peppering the Argentine goal with shots.
After a few incidence of handbags creeping into the game, the home side levelled the tie with 20 minutes remaining. Victor Estupinan flighted in a free kick from the left, which was turned in off the post by Danny Vera.
With the hosts in the ascendancy the winning goal followed five minutes later. Edison Mendez pumped a ball into the box and Carlos Espinola beat Fabian Cubero to the delivery to send the home crowd into raptures.
The Ecuadorians advance in their defence of their Copa Sudamericana title and face River Plate of Montevideo in the semi-finals. Velez Sarsfield cannot spend too long licking their wounds, as another crucial game in their race for the Argentine Apertura title against Estudiantes awaits them at the weekend.
Albicelestes Get A World Cup Makeover
Despite Argentina finally securing qualification for the 2010 World Cup, Diego Maradona’s first XI for South Africa is still up in the air.
If who will be wearing the shirt for Argentina is far from guaranteed, what we do know is what those lucky enough to play will be wearing.
The new home shirt, which will be worn by Argentina in their assault on glory at the World Cup in South Africa next year, was revealed in Buenos Aires this week.
The kit throws up no surprises, with the familiar sky blue and white stripes, which are feared throughout the world, dominantly on display.
Sports manufacturer Adidas boast that with the updated outfit players will be able to select a skin tight or loose fitting jersey, depending on their preference.
The shirt will make its debut in Argentina’s friendly against Spain in Madrid later this month. Fans of Argentina will hope that any type of change can only be a good thing for the nation, which stumbled over the line to secure World Cup qualification.
At the unveiling of the kit, Juan Sebastian Veron expressed his excitement over the change and hoped the shirt will bring his country the kind of run in the World Cup they crave.
"The home jersey is always a very beautiful thing," the midfielder said. "Hopefully we get to wear this new shirt many times."
Tim Sturtridge, Goal.com