Copa Libertadores: Leandro Damiao scores a hat-trick for five-star Internacional


After a shaky start, Lanus began to assert themselves and ground out a single goal victory in Buenos Aires to kick-start their Copa Libertadores campaign.

Diego Valeri hit the woodwork twice in quick succession midway through the first half as the hosts began to dominate. Emelec were struggling to deal with wave upon wave of attacks from El Granate and were reduced to 10 men when last man Jose Luis Quinonez felled Mariano Pavone with eight first-half minutes remaining. Esteban Dreer was forced into a great save from Mario Regueiro’s resultant free kick.

Mauro Camoranesi wasted a chance to shoot shortly after the restart, opting to square the ball across goal instead of calling Dreer into action. This epitomised Lanus' profligacy in front of goal as all they could muster was countless corners. The entire stadium breathed a sigh of relief when Pavone eventually found the breakthrough, sweeping Valeri’s pass into the roof of the net 18 minutes from time.

Luciano Figueroa missed a chance to level the score in the dying moments but could not beat Agustin Marchesin with his header. The win sees Lanus jump from bottom to second position in Group 2, joined by Flamengo who play on Thursday night. Emelec replace them at the bottom of the group in what looks set to be a tight battle for progression.

Nacional (PAR)
Deportivo Tachira

Nacional came from behind to beat a resilient Deportivo Tachira, earning their first win of this year's group stage.

Rodrigo Teixeira failed to make the most of some early chances and his side paid the price for poor finishing when Pedro Fernandez volleyed in from the top of the box after 31 minutes. Jose Parra then rattled the crossbar with a thunderous free kick for the visitors shortly before the break.

The second half saw the game turn on its head. Jackson Clavijo was dismissed for handball in the area and German Cano brought the hosts level from the spot after 51 minutes.  Cano then added his second with a header in the 73rd minute before Angel Chourio equalised for the Aurinegro with a beautiful finish 10 minutes from time. However, two minutes later Silvio Torales thumped a loose ball into the back to hand the Tricolor the win.

Pedro Fernandez was dismissed for a horrible challenge on Gustavo Cristaldo in the final moments to put any hopes of a second comeback to bed. Nacional therefore leapfrog the Venezuelans into third position in Group 6 behind Cruz Azul and Corinthians. They will hope to bag another win over Tachira in a fortnight ahead of two crucial games with the groups leading teams.

Alianza Lima
Nacional (URU)

Alianza Lima earned their first points of the tournament with a single-goal triumph over nine-man Nacional in Lima.

Charged by a large crowd, Alianza stormed into a 16th minute lead. Johnnier Montano clipped the ball into the box and Jose Carlos Fernandez's finished with a solid header. In a scrappy game Jose Soto's men became sloppy and conceded a number of free kicks in dangerous areas but Nacional exploit the opportunities presented to them.

The influential Montano bulldozed his way forwards within 10 minutes of the break and saw his wicked left-foot effort ricochet off the post. The Colombian was at the heart of the action once again as his overreaction to contact from Israel Damonte saw Nacional reduced to 10 men. Soto sought to protect his team's lead and his negative substitutions almost gave instant birth to complacency. Santiago Romero turned a gilt-edged chance onto the post from point-blank range just after the hour mark.

When Diego Placente was dismissed after 70 minutes, victory for the hosts was all but secured. Cristofer Soto and Jorge Bazan could have added more goals for the Peruvians but the one goal was enough. Alianza join Nacional and Vasco da Gama in second position in Group 5, with each side on three points.

The Strongest

Internacional bounced back from last week's defeat at the hands of Santos to trounce The Strongest, with the help of a Leandro Damiao hat-trick, in front of a packed Beira-Rio.

Inter began impressively and scored the games opening goal with their first attack, five minutes in. Dagoberto controlled the ball with his chest before turning and lashing the ball home on the volley in an exquisite finish. The lead was doubled just two minutes later when Damiao nodded home from Jesus Datolo's cross.

The Colorado seemed to lose the conviction in front of goal that they displayed early on as they were unable to add to their tally for the evening. The home fans had to wait 50 minutes until they would see another goal. Datolo once again the provider for Damiao who slotted home after seeing his initial shot saved by Daniel Vaca.

With his side cruising, Damiao secured his hat-trick when he added a placed finish to the end off Oscar's cutting pass. With Inter attacking at will and picking the Bolivians off, the rout was completed when former Manchester City striker Jo drilled the ball past Vaca with his left foot. Inter now join The Strongest on six points at the top of Group 1 and they could be joined by Santos should they win their game in hand.
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