Weekly Round-Up: Sudamericana Round of 16 First Legs Provide Excitement

Another exciting week of CONMEBOL Sudamericana action has come to a close, with some teams setting themselves for quarterfinal qualification with a strong first leg performance, while other ties remain firmly in play.

Action started on Tuesday afternoon in Venezuela as Zulia took down Sporting Cristal by a single goal. Zulia’s tally came in the second half, with Frank Feltscher finishing strongly after a well-placed cutback.

Zulia will take their slender advantage to Lima next week where Sporting Cristal will seek to turn the tables and secure a spot in the quarterfinals. The winner of this tie will find themselves matched up with Colón, who defeated Argentinos Juniors on penalties last week.

Tuesday’s action concluded in Montevideo, with Fluminense 2-1 winners against Peñarol, an advantage that should suit them well for next week’s second leg in Rio de Janeiro. Colombian Yony González bagged a brace for the Brazilians, including a well-taken finish for his first.

González doubled the Fluminense lead on 71 minutes, and it looked as though the visitors were heading for a multi-goal win away from home, but Gastón Rodríguez pulled one back late for the hosts, giving them hope to turn the tie around next week. 

Fluminense though, will feel in control of the tie as Peñarol will need to score at least twice at the Maracanã, due to the pair of away goals Fluminense picked up in Montevideo.  An all-Brazilian matchup was next up on the docket for the Sudamericana this week, as Botafogo and Atlético Mineiro met up in Rio de Janeiro. In what proved to be a tight affair, Atlético Mineiro were able to take advantage of a mistake at the back from Botafogo, with Vinícius Goes finding the back of the net for the game’s only goal.

The tight nature of the first leg coupled with the prospect of a matchup with Colombian side La Equidad in the quarterfinals surely means that this tie is far from over as it heads to Belo Horizonte next week. 

Thursday night saw a pair of highly anticipated ties take centre stage. At the Arena Corinthians in São Paulo, the hosts took down Montevideo Wanderers by a score of 2-0, with Clayson finding the back of the net in the first half and Pedrinho doubling the lead late on. 

Timão will look to defend their lead next week in Montevideo, with the winner of this tie meeting up with either Fluminense or Peñarol in the quarterfinals. 

In Avellaneda, host side Independiente met up with an in-form Universidad Católica from Ecuador. On what proved to be a wet and chilly night, Chilean international Pedro Pablo Hernández found the back of what proved to be an empty net to give Independiente a slender victory

Católica, who were unbeaten in their last 6 matches in all competitions coming into last night, will feel they can fight back in next week’s second leg. The winner of this tie will meet Ecuadorian side Independiente del Valle in the quarterfinals.

CONMEBOL Sudamericana Round of 16, Second Legs:

Sporting Cristal-Zulia, Tuesday 30 July, 17:15 (PER)

Fluminense-Peñarol, Tuesday 30 July, 21:30 (BRA)

Atlético Mineiro-Botafogo, Wednesday 31 July, 21:30 (BRA)

Montevideo Wanderers-Corinthians, Thursday 1 August, 21:30 (URU)

Universidad Católica (ECU)-Independiente, Thursday 1 August, 19:30 (ECU)