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Copa Libertadores Week 2 Review: Alianza Lima break 30 game winless record in Paraguay

Star Performers: Alianza Lima

Peruvian champions Alianza Lima had a record no one in South America would want to be associated with. After drawing 0-0 with Athletico PR in their opening group match, Alianza Lima had now gone 30 Libertadores matches without a win, stretching back to 2015.

In fact, you had to go back to 2010 for their last victory away from home. The task wasn’t made easier when they were drawn in a group including last year’s finalists Atletico MG – where there only realistic opportunity of success appeared to be against Libertad on home soil.

However, Alianza Lima’s second half performance against Libertad in Paraguay on Friday 21st April will go down in the club’s history.

With Libertad having travelled to Brazil and beaten Atletico MG in their own backyard, no one expected Alianza Lima to pick up any points in Paraguay – yet a 2-1 victory saw them top Group G.

The victory didn’t look as though it was coming before kick-off, but neither did it at half-time, with Alianza Lima hanging on at 0-0 with just 36% possession.

Despite this, and having failed to test Martin Silva at all, and it looked only a matter of time before Libertad opened the scoring.

Yet Alianza Lima came out fighting and took Libertad by surprise, scoring in the first minute of the second half before adding a second within seven minutes. Sadly, Aldair Rodriguez’s second was ruled out by VAR for a foul in the build-up.

Yet the Peruvians didn’t rest on their laurels, and the forward once again played his role in their second, assisting Alianza’s standout signing in Pablo Sabbag, putting them 19 minutes away from breaking their unwanted record.

A 94th minute penalty converted by Oscar Cordozo made for a nervy ending, but when the referee finally blew the final whistle in the 99th minute, an explosion of relief came from the Alianza Lima players and bench, joining as one on the pitch to soak up the atmosphere and enjoy their victory for as long as they possibly could.

Next up, an away trip to Atletico MG who have failed to get a point on the board after two matches.

Biggest Flops: Corinthians

With fourteen out of sixteen home teams winning in week two, not many expected Corinthians to be one of those.

Group E has been branded this year’s group of death, as Corinthians, Argentinos Jrs and Independiente del Valle are all capable of topping the group – which is why losing at home is far from ideal in such a competitive group.

It was Argentinos Jrs who were all smiles after week two, as another 1-0 victory puts them on top and on track to progress to the knockout stage.

A 13th minute strike from Javier Cabrera was enough to see Argentinos return home with the three points, yet their goal wasn’t really tested over the 90 minutes.

Despite Corinthians having almost 60% possession and 19 shots, they only stung Federico Lanzillotta’s hands three times – all in the first half. The home side managed 12 shots in the second half, but none testing Argentinos Jr’s goal – a theme we saw with the Brazilians last year.

With Roger Guedes and Yuri Alberto in attack, the club will be disappointed they failed to score at home for the first time in 2023.

Next up, a key fixture against IDV on 3rd May awaits, but Fernando Lazaro will not be in charge, having been sacked and replaced with Cuca after the defeat.

Player of the round: Pablo Sabbag

After Alianza Lima broke their unwanted record, it’s hard to not pick their match winner. Pablo Sabbag who joined the club in pre-season, signing on loan from Colombian outfit La Equidad, was a menace all evening and deserved his goal with his clever finish.

Having scored 15 domestic goals last year, the forward has already scored five goals in eight matches at his new club, and has come in to lead the line since his signing.

His ability in front of goal will be crucial if Alianza Lima and their success in this tournament, who admittedly won’t have many opportunities in front of goal – and there’s a lot of pressure on Sabbag to deliver. But deliver he has and his fine curling strike makes him The Copa Club’s player of the round.

Goal of the round: Boca's Luis Advincula

Two last minute goals swung a ridiculous game in favour of an underperforming Boca side against Deportivo Pereira, but it was Advincula’s 89th minute equaliser which sent La Bombonera into bedlam on Wednesday.

Sit back and enjoy his fine strike which helped Boca’s incredible comeback in week two.

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