Two South American giants, the two most successful sides in Copa Libertadores history and perhaps two of the favourites for the tournament this year began their campaigns on Thursday evening and both Boca Juniors and Independiente were left disappointed from long-haul trips away.
Boca Juniors were held to a frustrating goalless draw by Alianza Lima while a lacklustre Independiente display was punished with a 1-0 defeat to Deportivo Lara.
Injury and suspension prompted Boca to field a somewhat unfamiliar looking side but with Carlos Tevez, Cristian Pavón and Edwin Cardona in attack, the Argentine champions were still thought to have too much for their Peruvian opponents.
Tevez and Cardona both hit the woodwork either side of half time but it was a poor performance by Guillermo Barros Schelotto’s side and could have been far worse as Alejandro Hohberg selfishly wasted a glorious chance on the counter and Paulo Cruzado flashed a long range effort inches wide in the closing seconds.
With Palmeiras beating Junior 3-0 in Group H’s other game, Boca will be eager to pick up their first win when Junior visit La Bombonera in a month.
Independiente will also be hoping for victory in their next game following opening day defeat away to Deportivo Lara.
A sluggish start in Venezuela saw Deportivo lead after ten minutes when a cross from the right found Carlos Sierra López unmarked at the back post for a simple volleyed finish past Martín Campaña.
Ariel Holan would have hoped for a reaction from his side but barring Fernando Gaibor heading over from seven yards out when left in acres of space there was little quality from Independiente. The state of the pitch will not have helped El Rojo’s usual passing style but while the bobbly surface was anything but, El Rojo’s performance was flat.
A goal mouth scramble resulted in Juan Manuel Martinez hitting the post but in truth El Rojo rarely looked like getting something from the game as the hosts defended well and countered when possible, hitting the bar in the last few minutes.
Millonarios, who drew with Corinthians in Group G’s other game, visit Avellaneda in two weeks and after failing to win in Venezuela, Independiente know that only three points will do.
Alianza Lima 0 – 0 Boca Juniors
Deportivo Lara 1 – 0 Independiente