Unión Española has joined fellow Chileans, Universidad de Chile in the next stage of the Copa Libertadores after defeating Bolivian side, Bolivar 2-1 in the Estadio Santa Laura.
Going into the match los hispanos knew that a win against the second placed Bolivar would guarantee its progression to the knockout stage of the competition for the first time since 1994 and in the early stages they played like a team full of confidence. It took until the eighteenth minute for the home team to break the deadlock as captain Braulio Leal headed home from a clever flick on at the near post from Jorge Ampuero to open the scoring. The corner came after Bolivar ‘keeper Marcos Argüello had saved a fierce shot from Mauro Díaz that momentarily winded the Argentinean.
The Bolivians to their credit didn’t drop their heads after the goal and started to create some chances of their own with Jhasmani Campos coming close with a free kick in the 25th minute and former Santiago Morning player, Ever Cantero rattling the crossbar only minutes before the half time break.
The second half was a more circumspect affair with much of the play taking in the midfield. But that all changed in the 66th minute as Sebastián Jaime bravely got on the end of a long clearance from Unión goalkeeper Eduardo Lobos before his Bolivar counterpart could get to the ball and the with the ball trickling towards an empty net it was tapped in by Emanuel Herrera. The second goal appeared to take the wind out of the sails of Bolivar and it was the home side who created the better of the chances before the aforementioned Cantero pulled one back in the 83rd minute courtesy of some poor marking. There was a heart-in-mouth moment in the dying moments as Cantero sprung the offside trap and then went down in the area but fortunately for the home side, referee Heber Lopes deemed it not worthy of penalty.
Next up for the already qualified Unión Española is a trip to Colombia to take on the eliminated Junior de Baranquilla.
Unión Española 2-1 Bolivar