Rosario Central’s hopes of progressing in this year’s Copa Libertadores hang by a thread after defeat to Libertad in Asunción left El Canalla bottom of Group H at the halfway point.
The Paraguayans have a 100% record and are themselves cruising towards the last 16 after deservedly dispatching of a Central side far from the level required to compete in the Libertadores.
Despite holding out until the just after half time, Central’s resolve was eventually broken when Matías Espinoza rose completely unmarked to head in from a corner and after continuously threatening it wasn’t too long before Jorge Recalde rifled a shot from distance past Jeremías Ledesma.
It is with good reason that Central are down in 18th in the Superliga and Diego Cocca’s arrival as coach was never likely to spark an immediate upturn in form. 2017 champions Grêmio’s defeat to Universidad Católica leaves the group split in two and the loser of next week’s clash between Central and the Brazilians in Porto Alegre will almost certainly be gone.
Libertad 2 – 0 Rosario Central
It wasn’t all bad news for Argentine clubs in continental competition though as Argentinos Juniors secured a comfortable 2-0 first leg win over Venezuelan side Estudiantes de Mérida in the Copa Sudamericana.
Los Bichos have had a testing league campaign which until relatively recently had flirted with relegation but Diego Dabove’s side had far too much for Estudiantes and will be taking a good advantage to Mérida next month.
Damián Batallini had already clattered the crossbar with a close range volley after goalkeeper Alejandro Araque had palmed out Alexis Mac Allister’s free kick when the deadlock was eventually broken in the 24 minute. A Mac Allister set-piece was again the catalyst and on this occasion the head of 17-year-old midfielder Edson Rivas sent the ball into his own net.
It could have been more for Argentinos but even after the visitors saw Jesús Meza sent off on the hour mark, the home side had to wait until the 77th minute for Batallini to superbly bend in a second.
There is still work to be done on May the 2nd but Argentinos Juniors will be firm favourites to claim a place in the second round.