Triumphant Palestino march on to the group stage of Copa Libertadores

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SANTIAGO – Palestino managed to become the third Chilean team to qualify for the group stage of the Copa Libertadores. The team defeated Talleres Córdoba 2-1 (4-3 agg) in a nervy night at the almost packed Estadio San Carlos de Apoquindo. Fans of both teams were in full voice throughout the breathtaking evening, with Palestino lining up in their now familiar 4-4-2 diamond formation.

The game was setup for drama following the 2-2 draw in Córdoba, a match that Palestino rescued from the clutch of defeat.

The first half proved difficult for either team to gain composure, Palestino could not replicate the free-flow passing game that has become synonymous with their Libertadores run. This was largely due to the high pressing style of Talleres who were determined to not allow Palestino time on the ball.

As the half drew on, Palestino’s frustrations were clear to see, without a real shot on goal and several refereeing decisions going against the Chileans tempers started to boil. Fernández was shown a yellow card and could have been dismissed with several poor challenges. Their misery was compounded on 30 minutes when a neat exchange and cross from the right-hand side was met by Moreno to simply pass into the empty Palestino goal, 1-0 Talleres.

As the half-time whistle blew, the Palestino players surrounded the referee and his assistants seemingly querying the many questionable first half decisions that seemed to favor Talleres. It would take a rallying effort at half-time to come back from what was a poor first-half display.

Second half

The second half commenced much as the first half ended, again without either team really being able to collect themselves to make an impact. Palestino needed only one goal to force a draw, which would be enough to send them through, but as the minutes wore on it looked unlikely. Passerini came off for Guerrero, who had an immediate impact.

Some wonderful hold up play in the 70th minute squared the ball to Jiménez who seemingly had all the time in the world to take a touch in the box and his shot to the left of the keeper for the equalizer: 1-1 and the crowd were in rapture, they knew that this was Palestino’s chance to progress and their team needed only to hold out for 20 minutes.

Talleres rallied and gained a few half chances, much to the worry of the Palestino fans, but in the 90th minute Jorquera struck from outside the box to make it 2-1 for Palestino. Talleres had one final chance to even the score in the 96th minute, the last kick of the game, a free-kick on the edge of the box for a deliberate handball by Fernández, which also saw him sent off.

The Palestino fans, in full voice, waited anxiously for the kick to be taken. The shot came inches from dipping under the crossbar but ultimately went over. The full-time whistle blew and the Palestino players were mobbed by substitutes and technical staff from the bench, incredible scenes of jubilation.

Also read:

More than just a football team: C.D. Palestino

Three Chilean teams in the Copa Libertadores

Now Palestino enter Group A with River Plate (of Argentina), Internacional (Brazil) and Alianza Lima (Peru). The first match at home is against Internacional next Wednesday. Universidad Católica and Universidad Concepción start their Libertadores campaigns next week. Concepción begin against Olimpia and Católica’s first match opponents are decided this week.

Both U. Católica and U. Concepción should certainly feel as though they have an opportunity to progress through the group stages. Their groups include Gremio (Brasil) and Rosiario Central (Argentina) for U. Católica and Godoy Cruz (Argentina), Olimpia (Paraguay) and Sporting Cristal (Peru) for U. Concepción and so there are certainly points on offer.

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Palestino through: relive a magical night in the Copa Libertadores

Talleres Córdoba: Herrera, Bersano (Arias), Araujo (Maroni), Komar, Tenaglia, Guiñazú (Sañora), Ramirez, Cubas, Pochettino, Palacios, Moreno

Palestino:  Gonzáles, Vejar, Mago, Gonzáles, Soto, Cortes (Jorquera), Farias, Fernández (red card), Jiménez (Ahumada), Gutiérrez, Passerini (Guerrero)

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