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Melgar, Mineiro, Libertad frontrunners to enter groups of Copa Libertadores

Libertad's Ayrton Cougo (L) vies for the ball with Atletico Nacional's Jeison Lucumi during the Copa Libertadores soccer match between Libertad of Paraguay and Atletico Nacional of Colombia, at Nicolas Leoz stadium in Asuncion, Paraguay, Feb. 21, 2019. EPA-EFE/Andres Cristaldo

Libertad’s Ayrton Cougo (L) vies for the ball with Atletico Nacional’s Jeison Lucumi during the Copa Libertadores soccer match between Libertad of Paraguay and Atletico Nacional of Colombia, at Nicolas Leoz stadium in Asuncion, Paraguay, Feb. 21, 2019. EPA-EFE/Andres Cristaldo

EFE

The penultimate season of the group stage of the Copa Libertadores 2019 has pushed Peru’s Melgar FC, Brazil’s Atletico Mineiro and Paraguay’s Libertad in the forefront while Chile’s Deportivo Palestino is trailing just behind but still has good chances to qualify.

The four away matches of the third round of the tournament, played this week, saw two home wins, one visitor and one draw, with a total of nine goals.

One of the most spectacular goals scored in this phase was by Melgar’s Hideyoshi Arakaki at 51 minutes of its match against Venezuela’s Caracas which the former won 2-0 Tuesday in Arequipa.

Arakaki received a pass from Joel Sanchez and from outside the area shot a powerful hard right while sending the ball over the defenses and Caracas goalkeeper.

Melgar will go up against Caracas again on Feb. 26 after which it hopes to seal its position in Group F in which Brazil’s Palmeiras, Argentina’s San Lorenzo and Colombia’s Junior FC have already entered.

Argentina’s Talleres de Cordoba arrived much motivated after its 2-0 victory against Sao Paulo but failed to recreate the win against Palestino as the match ended in a 2-2 draw.

A match on Feb. 27 will decide which of the two teams will enter Group A joining Argentina’s River Plate, Brazil’s Internacional and Peru’s Alianza Lima.

In Montevideo, Atletico Mineiro defeated Uruguay’s Defensor Sporting 2-0 with goals from Rever Humberto and Juan Cazares.

The Uruguayan team has managed to stay in the competition thanks to a favorable ruling by the Disciplinary Tribunal of the Conmebol that awarded it three points in its match against Ecuador’s Barcelona (3-0) in Leg 1 of 2 in the second round due to improper alignment of Barcelona midfielder Sebastian Perez.

Both Sporting and Mineiro have a match coming up on Feb. 27 in and the winner will enter Group E joining the ranks of Uruguay’s Nacional, Paraguay’s Cerro Porteño and Venezuela’s Zamora.

Libertad beat Colombia’s Atletico Nacional 1-0 in Leg 1 of 2 of the third round and has good chances of qualifying into the groups now.

Libertad’s 35-year-old veteran Oscar Cardozo scored the only goal of the night at 55 minutes in a match that saw the Colombian team fail several goal attempts.

Their next match Thursday will decide who will enter Group H to join Brazil’s Gremio, Chile’s Universidad Catolica and Argentina’s Rosario Central.

By Gabriel Briceño Fernandez


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