Unión Española lose to Boca Juniors in final minutes of Copa Libertadores
BUENOS AIRES, ARGENTINA – A goal from Santiago Silva in the 90th minute was enough to give the Argentine sides a 2-1 victory in Buenos Aires in the Copa Libertadores clash. While one may expect a battle between a team that had to come through the qualification rounds and one of the most famous teams in the world to be more lopsided, the “Hispanics” showed a high level to be right in the match at La Bombonera until the final minutes. Coach José Luis Sierra said after the match “at this level, we can win the match next week”. Sierra had compared the atmosphere before the match to playing at Santiago Bernabeu, home to Real Madrid. “They are world-class stages, with history, but this is still football, it is just a stadium and we have to ignore everything else” he said in a press conference before the match.
Despite the loss, even a 1-0 victory next Wednesday would see Unión Española through to the quarter finals of the most prestigious competition in South America. While most of the focus has been on Universidad de Chile, who play tonight in Quito, Unión Española have been quiet achievers in the competition, finishing on top of a group including Bolívar and Universidad Católica.
The hometown press was critical of the defending champions of the Argentine league, with Boca Juniors beings described as “unusually unbalanced” and “far from a title contender”. Sebastian Jaime was the scorer for Unión Española blasting the ball into the goal after a strong leadup from Emmanuel Herrera. Boca Juniors had the dominance in the first half, with four time Argentine Football of the Year Juan Román Riquelme opening the scoring with a goal of the post. The former Barcelona and Villareal player, who has had limited involvement in this edition of the Copa Libertadores said after the match, “We’re happy. We beat a team that played well and knows how the keep possession.”
The return will be played at Estadio Santa Laura on May 9 at 6:30pm. The away goal will give the home fans a sense that a victory is achievable against the six time champions of the Copa Libertadores. While Unión Española have been strong on the international stage, their performances in the 2012 Apertura have been mixed. Most recently a 4-1 victory over Universidad de Concepción has seen them rise to 4th place on the table. They will travel to Antofagasta this weekend. It is likely a number of their best players will be rested for the match against the team in twelfth place.
Univerisdad de Chile, the other Chilean team still in the hunt for the Copa Libertadores will play tonight at 8:15pm in Quito.