Nacional (URU) vs Libertad
Estadio Olímpico, Montevideo
(1-0) 1-2 – Aguirre ’19; Samudio ’57, Caballero ’63
Libertad turned over a one-goal deficit to earn a wonderful win in the Uruguayan capital last night thanks to quickfire goals from left back Miguel Samudio and super sub Maurito Caballero. It represented Libertad’s maiden win over Nacional in the Copa Libertadores and the first victory by a Paraguayan side in Montevideo since 7 April 1993 when Olimpia won by the same scoreline and coincidentally a Mauro Caballero on the scoresheet – Maurito’s father.
As expected Libertad went into the game rather defensively with three central midfielders blanketing the middle of the pitch to try and stop Nacional playing. It certainly seemed to be working, the first 15 minutes went by at a relatively slow tempo and without either side creating a clear chance. But cracks began to appear down the Gumarelo right hand side, on 18 minutes Nacional came close with a header at the far post before opening the scoring just a minute later. Carlos Bonet misjudged the bounce and was beaten too easily by Viudez who saw his cross only half cut out, the ball fell to Sanchez who gave Aguirre the simplest of chances to open the scoring.
The goal certainly sparked Libertad into life and they started to play with a bit more freedom especially Rodolfo Gamarra and Jonathan Santana. The latter had a left foot volley that went over the bar on 25 minutes but the best chance of the half came on 34 minutes when Gamarra released Bonet in behind the defence. The full back’s cross was deflected and Luciano Civelli met it well with his head only to direct the ball straight at Nacional’s goalkeeper, Burián.
At the start of the second half Nacional came out with more determination and looked to kill off the game which would ultimately let Libertad back into it. Rodrigo Muñoz made a good save on 48 minutes but was beaten just six minutes later when substiute Abero capitalised on a mix up in the visitor’s defence but was denied a goal by the upright. Nacional smelled blood and committed men forward to a 57th minute corner only to be stung by a wonderful Libertad counter attack that resulted in the equaliser.
Topo Caceres (who was awesome all night) sprayed the ball wide to Gamarra, the winger held the ball up just enough to play in full back Samudio who made no mistake when faced with the onrushing keeper, slipping the ball between his legs. The winner came just six minutes later, Caceres again played a give-and-go in central midfield before opening the play to substitute Victor Ayala on the right. The Paraguay international flashed a cross (or was it a shot) across the box and there was Maurito Caballero to instinctively stick out his left leg and emulate his father nineteen years on with a goal in Montevideo.
Nacional’s late rally wasn’t enough as Libertad, who defended poorly individually at times, dug in and held on for this fantastic win that puts them top of Group 5. The next fixture will be in just under a month at home to Brazilian club Vasco da Gama.
Libertad XI (4-5-1)
R. Muñoz; C. Bonet, J. Bizera, I.Benegas, M.Samudio; R.Gamarra, V.Caceres, S.Aquino, J.Santana, L.Civelli; P.Velazquez
Subs: Maurito Caballero for Jonathan Santana ’54, Victor Ayala for Rodolfo Gamarra ’62, Cristian Menendez for Pablo Velazquez ’75
Yellow Cards: V.Caceres ’32, M.Caballero ’84
Man of the Match: Victor ‘Topo’ Caceres
By Ralph Hannah