Ibague (Colombia), March 6 (IANS) Colombian club Deportes Tolima upset Brazil’s Atletico Paranaense 1-0 thanks to a goal by left-back Danovis Banguero in a Group G match on the opening day of the 2019 Copa Libertadores, South America’s premier club soccer tournament.
Playing at their home ground, the Manuel Murillo Toro Stadium here on Tuesday, the Colombians edged past the 2018 Copa Sudamericana champions in a closely fought match thanks to a goal from Banguero, who knocked in a rebound from Paranaense goalkeeper Santos after a header from an in-swinging free kick.
The first few minutes of the match saw the Brazilians dominate midfield as they tried to dictate play through keeping possession, although they did not trouble the Tolima goalkeeper Alvaro Montero, reports Efe news.
The visitors tried to generate some opportunities, especially on the left flank with the help of left-back Renan Lodi, who was one of the key players in Paranaense’s attack.
But the hosts stood firm and came into the match thanks to the midfield duo of Larry Vasquez and Carlos Robles who started to make inroads into the opposition’s defence.
The first clear goal scoring opportunity came when Tolima winger Omar Albornoz sent a cross inside the penalty box to Luis Gonzalez, whose shot was blocked by the Paranaense keeper.
Tolima – inspired by returning to Copa Libertadores after a six year hiatus – took the lead in the 29th minute when Santos tried to clear a header by Marco Perez from Gonzalez’s free kick and Banguero scored on the rebound from inside the six yard box.
The Colombians remained disciplined and managed to keep a clean sheet by half time despite efforts by Paranaense forwards Marco Ruben and Nikao.
The Brazilians again dominated the possession in the beginning of the second half and looked dangerous when Rony ran in from the right flank and sent in a pass to Montero, whose shot rebounded off Tolima defender Julian Quinones and hit the goalpost.
Despite Paranaense enjoying most of the ball, the hosts created some good chances on the counterattack as the midfield tried to find Gonzalez, Albornoz or Perez through long balls.
Paranaense were also forced to resort to medium-range shots thanks to a solid Tolima defence, but the attempts by Lodi, Bruno Guimaraes and Tomas Andrade did not yield an equalizer.
In the end, the Colombians managed to hold on to their lead despite the regular Paranaense attacks to earn three points to open their account in the tournament.
Tolima will visit Argentina’s Boca Juniors on March 12 for their next match while Paranaense will host Bolivia’s Jorge Wilstermann on March 14 for their second Group G match.