Copa Sudamericana: Véléz through, Godoy out
With current champions, Independiente of Argentina knocked out last week by Liga de Quito of Ecuador, we will see a new team lift the Copa Sudamericana this year.
The Copa Bridgestone Sudamericana, as it is now known, is Latin America’s equivalent of the UEFA Cup and it is disputed by the teams that don’t qualify for the Copa Libertadores. So who are the main challengers this year as the competition enters the quarter final stage?
Véléz Sársfield, this year’s champions of the Primera in Argentina, went through on Wednesday 3-1 on aggregate against Universidad Católica of Chile in spite of a lethargic and uninspiring performance in the second leg.
Having won the away fixture in Santiago 2-0, Véléz were slow to start and when Gonzalo Sepúlveda put UC ahead early on with a wonderful strike from outside the area, the tie was alive and the comeback on. However, the second goal never came despite a number of openings and Ortiz’s late header restored parity. The champions of Argentina progress, courtesy of a fine first leg performance.
The comeback happened in Lima last night, where an inspired Universitario held their nerve to beat Godoy Cruz of Argentina 3-2 on penalties. An 84th minute equaliser from seventeen year old rising star Andy Polo had forced the game to penalties and the home side prevailed thanks to some poor penalties from the Mendozan side.
With Godoy completely dominating the encounter, the introduction of another Peruvian youngster Edison Flores on 73 minutes changed the flow of the game. At seventeen, Flores has very limited experience, but is a natural winger with outstanding skill and pace and will go on to have a long and fruitful career in the game.
It was from Flores’ cross that Andy Polo equalised in the final few minutes of the match and ‘La U’ progress to face Vasco da Gama of Brazil or Aurora of Bolivia.
So Véléz, Universitario, Liga de Quito and Arsenal are all through to the quarters and four more clubs will join them by next Wednesday. Of the likely candidates Universidad de Chile look the most threatening after dispatching Flamengo 4-0 in Brazil in the first leg of their tie with a completely dominant performance.
How the latter stages of the tournament will develop is anyone’s guess – there is a lot of football still to be played, but watch out for Universitario, and in particular young Edison Flores, as Peruvian football continues to go from strength to strength.