Monday, 18 June 2012 20:35
Colo Colo and Unión Española gain advantage in semifinals as U de Chile flounders.Colo Colo 2-0 Universidad de Chile
Blood and thunder marked Santiago’s superclásico, with Colo Colo claiming two goals and two red cards in a defeat over crosstown rival Universidad de Chile. Revenge was sweet for Colo Colo, having been humbled 5-0 in their last matchup. La U’s promising season is close to coming apart, as the team appears exhausted and unrecognizable after last week’s loss to Boca Juniors in the Copa Libertadores.
“I am very happy and satisfied with what was done today. With two players sent off, the field in bad condition and no spectators, these weren’t normal conditions,” Colo Colo manager Luis Peréz said of a match that was played in an empty stadium after the hooliganism of Colo Colo’s quarterfinals
Goal-machine Esteban Paredes opened the scoring for Colo Colo on the quarter-hour mark. Forced to mark a trio of advancing opposition players, no La U defender closed down a charging Paredes, giving him space to belt a 20-yarder past an airborne Johnny Herrera.
Fifteen minutes later, Colo Colo midfielder Alvaro Ormeño bloodied La U striker Roberto Cereceda’s nose while contesting a header. Ormeño received a yellow to match another he had been awarded for an earlier infraction and Colo Colo went a man down.
The leaders continued to threaten, however, hitting the woodwork twice. La U would have tied it up just before the break had it not been for midfielder Eugenio Mena inexplicably failing to convert a chance from five yards out.
After the break, Paredes went on a strong run across muddy ground and fed through a fine ball to midfielder Bryan Rabello, who punished some pedestrian defending by slotting a shot under Herrera to make it 2-0.
Colo Colo will feel hard done-by to be without the lethal Paredes in the second leg of the tournament. The striker was shown a straight red for a tackle on La U’s Charles Aránguiz that many say deserved a caution at most.
Winning and down to nine men, Colo Colo sat back and weathered a half-hour onslaught from La U, with goalkeeper Renny Vega producing a fantastic performance to keep a clean sheet.
Colo Colo will savor this moment. La U will hope support from a second leg home crowd will help procure the two goal margin the team needs to advance.Unión Española 1-0 O’Higgins
Unión Española edges ahead in the race to the Apertura finals with a home victory over O’Higgins. The winners may come to rue some wasteful finishing, however, as an O’Higgins victory by a one goal margin in the return leg will see Española knocked out due to an inferior finish in the regular season.
O’Higgins could have gone ahead in the seventh minute through a header from midfielder Rodrigo Rojas that sailed painfully past the wrong side of the post. Española had an attempt cleared off the line minutes later, and controlled the game thereafter.
Española’s playmaker Emiliano Vecchio lit up the pitch with a lively performance at the heart of attack. In the 22nd minute some mesmerizing footwork in the box from the Argentine lacked only final product as he directed his shot straight at O’Higgins’ keeper Luis Marín.
Ten minutes later, Vecchio’s continued efforts were rewarded when the player capitalized on a ball that fell kindly to him after a defensive tackle, side-footing beyond Marín.
O’Higgins left outplayed but certainly not dispirited, and the team will view this finely balanced semifinal as wide open ahead of the second leg.
By Angus McNeice (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Copyright 2012 - The Santiago Times