Copa Sudamericana: Champions LDU Quito through to final four; Review
The Copa Sudamericana is reaching the business end of the tournament with the completion last night of the quarter-final stage in South America’s second club competition. The winners of this tournament will, for the first time, be given a place in the Copa Libertadores the following season so the stakes are high. For defending champions LDU Quito they have made something of a habit for coming good at the right time in recent years having won all of the major South American tournaments (i.e. Libertadores, Sudamericana, Recopa) in the last two years and it is possible that they could add to their growing collection of international titles.
LDU Quito did have to fight for their semi-final place however as they battled out a 1-0 aggregate victory over Argentinian side Newell’s Old Boys. Following a goalless stalemate in the first leg in Rosario, LDU Quito left it late to secure victory in the home leg which was played on Wednesday. Walter Calderón sealed the win in the 79th minute of the game when, with his back to goal, he received the ball on the edge of the box, turned his marker and shot low into the bottom left corner to score the game’s decisive goal. LDU will meet another Argentinian side Independiente in the semi-final following their away goals win over Colombians Deportes Tolima on Thursday. With the first leg finishing 2-2 in Colombia, Independiente were eventually grateful to hold on to what they had and with no scoring in the second leg the Argentinians will face up to the challenge of the defending champions in the next round.
The only certainly about this year’s Copa Sudamericana is that there will be a Brazilian team in the final. Palmeiras, led by former Brazil national team coach Luiz Felipe Scolari, are hoping to win an international title for the first time since winning the 1999 Libertadores following their 3-1 aggregate triumph over compatriots Atlético Mineiro. Following the two teams’ 1-1 draw in the first leg Palmeiras took the initiative in São Paulo on Wednesday after Marcos Assunção diverted a near post corner into the net on 27 minutes which was followed up late in the game with a left-footed low drive from Luan with eleven minutes to play. In the other all-Brazilian clash Goiás clinched their place following a 3-2 aggregate win over Avaí FC. In Thursday’s second leg match Rafael Moura scored the only goal of the goal on the stroke of half-time to give Goiás a 1-0 win on the night which creeped them into the semi-finals after the first leg finished in a 2-2 draw.