Friday, February 7, 2014

Copa Libertadores: Action-packed preliminaries conclude

Brazilian sides through, Mexico's Morelia out, U de Chile has best goal

The first stage of South America's premier competition moved six sides into the 32-team group phase and produced some fantastic football, goals and glimpses into what's expected in Copa Libertadores' seven-month journey to crown this year's champion.

The legendary Clarence Seedorf gave Botafogo some moments of brilliance last year to help capture a spot in this year's Libertadores edition before moving on to take the reins at AC Milan. And now, 25-year-old Wallyson--after netting a hat trick in Botafogo's 4-1 win at home over Ecuador's Deportivo Quito this week--will hope to emulate his former teammate as he looks to recapture his form from 2011 when he had seven goals for Libertadores' Golden Boot that year when he was with Cruzeiro.

Meanwhile, Brazil's other team in the preliminaries, Atletico Paranaense, needed to off Peru's Sporting Cristal in agonizing fashion as the Brazilians squeaked by in penalty kicks. Cristal player Yoshimar Yotun said after the match that he would have preferred to lose 3-0.

But no other side could boast the tournament's top goal so far as Uruguayan forward Rodrigo Mora netted this beauty for Universidad de Chile in its first-leg win over Paraguay's Guarani before closing them out 2-3 in the away leg.

Elswhere, Guillermo Barros Schelotto's Lanus side knocked off Venezuela's Caracas, Colombia's Independiente Santa Fe bested Morelia and Uruguay's Nacional edged Bolivia's Oriente Petrolero.

Check back for more updates on Copa Libertadores.