It was perhaps something of a mixed evening for Argentine clubs in the Copa Sudamericana on Wednesday night and although both ties are still very much in the balance, Belgrano will feel far more satisfied after their first leg against Coritiba than Independiente will following a frustrating draw with Chapecoense.
El Rojo hosted Chapecoense earlier in the evening but despite dominating the match against a Brazilian opponent content to sit back and soak up pressure, Gabi Milito’s side were unable to secure the first leg advantage they so desperately wanted.
Maxi Meza completed his transfer to the club this week and was introduced as a second half substitute but spurned the best chance of the game when dashing in behind the visitor’s defence from Martín Campaña’s long kick downfield.
Independiente travel to Chapecó next week knowing that a score draw would be enough to take them through but wary of their opponents.
A little later in Curitiba, Belgrano secured what could be an invaluable victory over Coritiba thanks to goals early in each half from Claudio Bieler and Nahuel Luján.
Bieler was the hero in the previous round against Estudiantes and needed just three minutes to add to his tally in Brazil. The 32-year-old smashed the ball into the top corner from the edge of the penalty area after fine work by Matías Suárez down the left.
The hosts had the chance to level before half time but English-born, Turkey international Colin Kazim-Richards saw his penalty saved and El Pirata took full advantage.
Four minutes after the break and Nahuel Luján doubled the lead with a wonderful looping header and perhaps if the score had remained at two, the tie would have been over.
However, Coritiba were awarded a second penalty of the evening and with Kazim-Richards relieved of duty, Leandro made no mistake in sending Juan Carlos Olave the wrong way.
Belgrano will welcome the Brazilians to Córdoba in a week but are now firm favourites to take a place in the quarter-finals.
Independiente 0 – 0 Chapecoense
Coritiba 1 – 2 Belgrano