Despite suffering a scare after just a few minutes, Libertad are through to the group stages of the Copa Libertadores with a comfortable 4-1 victory over Ecuador’s El Nacional in Asunción. A huge storm brought an end to weeks of drought in Paraguay and also saw the goals flood in at the Nicolas Leoz Stadium.
Jorge Burruchaga’s only change to the starting line up from the 1st leg was justitified after just two minutes, lanky striker Pablo Velázquez turning home Civelli’s cross. El Nacional were prepared to attack themselves and somewhat surprisingly found themselves level on the night when Paul Minda smashed home after just 13 minutes. With El Nacional in possession of the crucial away goal, Libertad had to attack and the Guma began to stream forward. Rodolfo Gamarra on the right hand side was at the heart of all Libertad’s advances. Having been booked on 15 minutes for diving in the box (according to the referee not this reporter) he then crossed for Ariel Nuñez who managed to bring down the ball and stab home for a lead on the night. Gamarra turned goalscorer on 35 minutes as he found himself with time and space at the back post to lash the ball past Cabezas in the El Nacional net. At half time Libertad were on course for victory.
Gamarra nearly grabbed his second at the start of the 2nd half twisting and turning only for his shot to be blocked by substitute goalkeeper Bonard. The game began to die down as Libertad gained more and more possession, after 75 minutes Ayala was brought on for Gamarra as a defensive move. Ironically the international midfielder almost scored with a rasping drive but the biggest scare was to come. On 79 minutes substitute Edmundo Zura pounced on a defensive error only to go for power over accuracy and shoot wide. A second yellow card for Madrid saw El Nacional reduced to ten men on 88 minutes. Moments later Teenage sensation Maurito Caballero missed a tap-in, but made amends with a clever dummy in stoppage time to allow Bonet’s slide rule pass to find Civelli unmarked at the far post to erase any lingering doubts.
Libertad’s victory sees them progress to Group 5 along with Vasco de Gama, Nacional (URU) and their opponents next week Alianza Lima.
Muñoz; Bonet, Benegas, Bareiro, Samudio; Gamarra, V.Caceres, Aquino, Civelli; J.A.Nuñez, Velázquez
Subs: Bareiro for Mencia ’27, Ayala for Gamarra ’73, Caballero for Nuñez ’81
Goals: Velazquez ‘2, Nuñez ’30, Gamarra ’35, Civelli ’94
Yellow Cards: Gamarra ’15, Mencia ’49
Cabezas; Chila, J.C. Anangono, Madrid, R.López; Pita, Caceido, Minda, J.L Anangono; Preciado, Govea
Subs: Bonard for Cabezas ’45, Govea for Minda ’61, Zura for Preciado ’73
Goals: Minda ’13
Yellow Cards: Caceido ’18, Chila ’25,
Red Cards: Madrid ’88 (second yellow)
M.o.M: José Ariel Nuñez (Libertad)
By Ralph Hannah