The Peruvian showed every sign of filling the hole left by 2011's hero with a goalscoring debut for the Azul, while the local leagues in Paraguay and Ecuador also kicked off
Double national champions and Copa Sudamericana holders Universidad de Chile picked up exactly where they left off in 2011 with a commanding victory over La Serena, in their first competitive game of the new year. The Azul showed little sign of missing Napoli signing Eduardo Vargas as his replacement, Peruvian maestro Raul Ruidiaz, netted on his debut to give his new team the lead. Junior Fernandez and Marcelo Diaz were also on target, giving Jorge Sampaoli's men a 3-1 triumph.
Elsewhere, a solitary goal for Rodrigo Millar led Colo Colo to a win over O'Higgins, while Universidad Catolica went down 2-1 to Santiago Wanderers. It was Copa Libertadores heroes Union Espanola, however, who had most cause for celebration. Just days after recording a thrilling victory over Tigres to make the group stage, the Santiago outfit destroyed Cobresal 6-1; an eight-minute hat trick from Sebastian Jaime the highlight of the evening in Santa Laura.
Real Cartagena celebrated victory in the clasico costeno at the weekend, as they came from behind to defeat rivals Juniors 2-1 and maintain an unbeaten start to the season. An own goal from Gonzalo Martinez put Cartagena under pressure in front of their own fans, but they were back on level terms before half-time thanks to Oscar Castillo's penalty. Junior icon Giovanni Hernandez, right, then saw red, before Donald Millan turned in a winner just four minutes from the end.
Elsewhere, a late goal from Cristian Nazarith helped Deportivo Cali forget their opening-day woes with a well-earned victory over Finalizacion finallists Once Caldas, squeaking to a 2-1 victory thanks to the striker's 83rd minute effort. Atletico Nacional, meanwhile, were disappointing in falling to defeat away to Itagui, and Santa Fe also toiled on the road as they went down to Deportes Tolima.
Barcelona enjoyed a spectacular start to the 2012 season, with four goals and three red cards marking an action-packed opening day victory over Deportivo Cuenca. New Argentine signing Pablo Luguercio opened the scoring for the Guayaquil side, before a late double from Arrinton Mina saw them past their opponents with a 3-1 win.
LDU Quito also had cause for celebration on the Primera Fase's first weekend, as a goal from Claudio Bieler on the hour saw them past Manta FC. Rivals and 2011 champions Deportivo Quito, meanwhile, fared rather worse. The capital side went down 1-0 away to Macara, with Diego Gonzalez hitting the target in the first half.
As Federico Santander prepares for a move to Argentina and Racing Club, he wasted no time in endearing himself to his new fans as he netted a double against Independiente! Independiente CG of Paraguay that is; the Guarani striker marked what could be his last game in his native country by hitting home twice in a 3-1 victory.
Champions Olimpia were also in form as the Paraguayan championship kicked off at the weekend, riding their luck to record a thrilling 3-2 win over newly-promoted Carapegua. Cerro Porteno had no such fortune, however, and were reduced to nine men in a disappointing reverse away to Sportivo Luqueno.