SANTIAGO – There were mixed fortunes for Chilean teams in the first round of the Copa Libertadores, in what was really two days of missed opportunity and disappointment for fans of U. Chile and Palestino. U. Chile succumbed to a 1-0 defeat in Peru at FBC Melgar on Tuesday night, and Palestino were held to a 1-1 draw in Santiago against Independiente Medellin. A report, from die-hard Palestino fan, Chile Today´s own John Browning.
The results leave both teams needing wins in their second leg matches, with U. Chile hosting Melgar on the 13th February at Estadio National and Palestino travelling to Columbia for their match on the 12th February.
Palestino will certainly feel disappointed with a draw from a game they really should have won. The spectacle was played under floodlights at the home of U. Catholica, Estadio San Carlos de Apoquindo. Certainly a much more pleasant place to watch football than La Cisterna, Palestino’s normal home territory. The atmosphere prior to kick-off was warm with the fanfare of the Copa Libertadores, which Palestino have not competed in since 2015, generating a jubilant atmosphere amongst both the home and travelling fans. Medellin filled their corner of the stadium with red and yellow shirts of die-hard fans travelling from Columbia.
Ivo Basay setup his Palestino side in a diamond 4-4-2 and the match started at an electric pace. Within the first minute Palestino had three excellent chances to take the lead. A neat back flick from Jimenez, who has been the speculation of several transfer rumours involving U. Chile this week, setup Passerini whose low shot was parried away by the keeper to his right post. The resulting corner produced two more good chances which were not taken.
The first 15 minutes saw Palestino dominate possession in calm and collected fashion, often playing put from the back and with short and sharp passing to feet. Jimenez was again the catalyst for a chance in the 12th minute when a neat passing exchange between him and Fernandez allowed a shot which was easily saved by Gonzales. Three minutes later a fantastic dribbling run and shot from the left back, Vejar, and a screaming strike from Passerini from the just outside the box, were rewarded with jubilation from the home fans. Palestino were running the show!
Medellin, playing a 3-5-2, were unable to cope with Palestino’s wing backs and particularly the floating midfielder Jimenez who ghosted around midfield running proceedings for the first 25 minutes. On 21’, Ricaurte had the first real attempt by Medellin. An ambitious strike from outside of the penalty box. A minute later and Palestino had won a freekick just outside the box to the right of the goal which Cortes’ took with his left foot and struck just inches over the bar, Gonzales seemingly beaten. The play was almost exactly repeated four minutes later earning Mosquera of Medellin, their first yellow card. This time the freekick was blazed over the bar.
After 30 minutes Medellin started to get into the game and Ricaurte again released a strike from the edge of the box which was uncomfortably collected by Gonzalez in goal for Palestino. As the first half wore on, the hold-up play of the big number 9 for Palestino, Passerini, became crucial with several balls being played into his feet looking for a flick on or different angle.
Just before half-time, a brilliant run from the centre back, Murillo, the full length of the pitch saw a good chance for Medellin go missing. Soon after, Mosquera performed an acrobatic, self-setup, overhead kick on the edge of the box which was easily saved by the Palestino keeper.
The first half ended all square, and Palestino will certainly have gone into the break disappointed they were not in front in what was a really enjoyable 45 minutes of football.
The second half kicked off with Palestino straight away looking to play more directly but the match lacked the intensity of the first half and both teams looked to settle but with few chances created. The central partnership, of Jimenez anchoring off the front two and Farias playing just in front of the back four, was looking strong in the early exchanges for Palestino. The best chance for Medellin came in the 58th minute with a massive goal mouth scramble that somehow didn’t end up in the back of the net.
The first goal of the game came for Medellin in 60th minute when a great run and pass from the left was met by Cano who drilled home, low, to the left of the keeper. The Medellin fans were in rapture as the entire substitute bench entered the field to congratulate their battling teammates. It had the feel of a team who had grabbed a goal they did not perhaps deserve. Medellin, 0-1 in front!
Medellin’s lead was short lived, as on the 65th minute Palestino rallied with a fantastic ball in from Soto on the right fed Fernandez who slotted home low to the keepers right. Palestino were back in the match, 1-1!
Unfortunately, the home team could not capitalise on their momentum and started to struggle to find the neat passing exchanges and movement which made the first half such a joy to watch. As the game closed out, with tired legs and move open spaces. Ricaurte, who was now sporting a kind of shower cap, presumably from a head collision earlier in the match, became an important lynchpin for Medellin in the centre of the park. But could still could not find the killer pass to unlock Palestino’s defence.
The game ended 1-1 and Medellin will certainly be the happier of the two teams with the result. Palestino should have taken their first chances better and on that first half performance probably deserved to win the match. They now travel to Columbia needing a win to progress to the third round.
Palestino: Gonzales, Soto, Gonzalez, Mago, Vejar, Fernandez (Rosende), Farias, Cortes (Jorquera), Jimenez, Gutierrez, Passerini (Guerrero)
Independiente Medellin: Gonzales, Murillo, Palacios, Urrego, Perla, Riascos (Arias), Parra, Ricaurte (Gomez), Mosquera, Cano, Castro (Moreno)
John is a volcanologist, sports fan, radio broadcaster, and accomplished musician. Born and raised in Britain, he has travelled extensively for his research on volcanoes. Whilst living in London, UK, John performed in the punk bands ‘And Now We’re Even’ and ‘Filthy Militia’ recording six studio albums and two EP’S over this time. He currently lives in Santiago, Chile where he works as a university professor in rock mechanics.