Thursday, 07 March 2013 00:11
The Chilean side from Talcahuano secures a 1-1 draw that lifts them off the bottom of their Copa Libertadores group.
Despite being under pressure from the home side for much of this encounter, Huachipato salvaged an important draw against Brazilian giants Fluminense. A calamitous error from the Chilean side’s goalkeeper Nery Veloso led to a 29th minute penalty, from which Fred converted the game’s opening goal. Huachipato evened things up after 70 minutes when Nicolás Nuñez finished powerfully from close range after a dazzling piece of skill from Francisco Arrué.
The atmosphere of the game felt markedly different from the Argentine cauldron of noise that served as the backdrop for Universidad de Chile’s match against Newell’s on Tuesday. Instead, there were a multitude of empty seats inside the cavernous Estádio Olímpico João Havelange, being used as the soccer centrepiece in Rio de Janeiro while the iconic Estádio do Maracanã is renovated for the 2014 World Cup.
Fluminense asserted their dominance and superiority early on, dissecting Huachipato’s disorganized defence at will, but their wasteful finishing let them down. The Rio side’s attacking trio of Thiago Neves, Wellington Nem and Fred, with 30 Brazilian international caps between them, looked constantly threatening, ably assisted from midfield by former Barcelona star Deco.
However it was a moment of farce from Nery Veloso that gifted the Brazilian team its first goal. Huachipato’s goalkeeper attempted to clear a seemingly innocuous loose ball but missed his kick completely. He then chose to dribble his way past oncoming pressure despite several opportunities to pick the ball up and the ball eventually fell to Deco, who was shoved from behind inside the box by Nicolás Nuñez. From the resulting penalty Fred sent the keeper the wrong way, converting calmly low to the right to make it 1-0.
Fluminense’s attacking pressure up to this point merited some reward, but Huachipato had only Veloso’s moment of madness to blame for the opening goal.
At half time there seemed little hope for the visiting Chilean side, who had been almost completely outclassed. However, Fluminense took their foot off the gas after the break and showed little initiative in search of a second goal. This complacency was punished in the 70th minute when a rare Huachipato attack was finished clinically by Nuñez, atoning for his foul that led to Fluminense’s penalty. However it was a breathtaking turn from Francisco Arrué in the build up that made the goal possible, a piece of improvisation that deceived two opposition defenders inside the box.
The equalizing goal seemed to wake Fluminense from their slumber, but despite near-constant pressure in the closing minutes, the Chileans escaped with a 1-1 draw against one of the strongest sides in the competition.
The point gained by Huachipato leaves them in third place in Group 8, with four points from their first four games. Fluminense and Grêmio currently occupy the two qualifying spots, with seven and six points respectively. However Grêmio have played a game less than the Chilean side, and could raise their points tally to nine with a win over Caracas next Tuesday.
By George Forrester (email@example.com)
Copyright 2013 - The Santiago Times