Neymar helps Santos to Paulista title: Lessons from South America
What did we learn from a busy week in South American football, with Neymar helping Santos win their third successive Paulista?
Neymar double earns Santos third consecutive Paulista crown
Santos ensured they celebrated their centenary year in style by securing their third consecutive São Paulo state title with a 4-2 win over Guarani. Having already won the first leg 3-0, Santos were all but guaranteed to take the title, although the encounter was far from dull. The game had a frantic opening 16 minutes in which both sides scored twice, with Guarani levelling twice after first Alan Kardec and then Neymar put the home side ahead. Kardec and Neymar both scored again in the second half to give Santos a 7-2 aggregate win and their third consecutive Paulista title – a feat not achieved by any club since Pele’s Santos team between 1967 and 1969.
Newell’s go two points clear as Boca and Velez draw a blank
Rosario’s Newell’s Old Boys opened up a two-point lead at the top of the Clausura table with an impressive win over provincial rivals Union. Newell’s ran out 3-1 winners, scoring after just five minutes courtesy of Víctor Figueroa and adding two more through Santiago Vergini and Maxi Urruti before half-time. Union pulled a goal back in the second half but could not prevent the home side from recording a comfortable win that, with five games left to play, leaves them well-placed to claim their first league title since 2004. Elsewhere, Arsenal de Sarandi kept up their push for a first league title with a 4-1 demolition of San Martín de San Juan. It was a first defeat for San Martín’s new manager, former Fulham striker Facundo Sava, whose side continue to battle to avoid relegation.
Copa Libertadores reaches quarter-finals
This week saw the completion of the first round of knock-out games as this season’s Copa Libertadores reached the semi-final stage. Santos went into their tie trailing Bolívar 2-1 but any hopes the Bolivian side had of an upset were soon extinguished as the defending champions romped to an 8-0 victory. Santos’ win set up an intriguing tie with Argentine side Velez Sársfield, who made the most of their home advantage to keep the fancied attack of Colombian side Atletico Nacional at bay – their 1-1 draw sending them through 2-1 on aggregate. The performance of the round arguably came from Universidad de Chile who, needing to overcome a 4-1 first leg deficit against Deportivo Quito, put on an attacking masterclass in a 6-0 victory. They will face Paraguayan side Libertad, who despatched Mexican side Cruz Azul 3-1 on aggregate. Fluminense’s 2-1 victory over Internacional, in the ‘Battle of Brazil’, set up a mouth-watering clash with Argentine giants Boca Juniors, who secured their progress into the next round with a 5-4 aggregate victory over Chile’s Union Espanola. Juan Román Riquelme played a decisive role for Boca, contributing two goals and an assist as his team ran out 3-2 winners in Santiago. The last quarter-final will be an all-Brazilian affair, pitting Vasco de Gama against Corinthians. Vasco needed a penalty shootout to get past Argentina’s Lanus, while Corinthians’ progress to the next round was more straightforward – they cruised to a 3-0 home win over Ecuadorian side Emelec.
San Lorenzo coach faces fresh battle
San Lorenzo’s newly appointed coach, Caruso Lombardi, has a reputation for rescuing clubs from relegation but it seems that he has taken the club’s need to fight the drop a bit too literally. The famously combative Lombardi was this week involved in a furious and televised spat on the streets of Buenos Aires. The San Lorenzo coach argued with Fabio Garcia – the assistant to Lombardi’s predecessor Leonardo Madelón – who objected to comments made by Lombardi about Madelon in a radio interview. Lombardi allegedly insulted Garcia, before an intervening policeman stepped in. Both men were taken to a police station but later released.
Goal of the Week: Lanus’ Mariano Pavone splendid lob
This edition’s goal of the week was scored by Mariano Pavone for Lanus against Banfield. Lanus put their Copa Libertadores exit behind them to win the Clasico del Sur 2-1. Pavone scored their second with an exquisitely-placed lobbed shot from outside the area.