Copa Libertadores starts with golazo, wins by Barcelona, Emelec, Universidad de Chile

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Copa Libertadores started in earnest on Tuesday. Sure, there were 10 play-in ties that rounded out the group stage field, but today in Montevideo, South America’s Champions League began proper.

And there’s no better way to start a tournament than with a golazo. Here is Barcelona (Ecuador) attacking midfielder Damián Diaz giving his side an early lead against Uruguayan power Nacional:

If the video’s not working for you, you missed Diaz striding up to a ball left bouncing after an aerial duel just outside Nacional’s penalty area. Hitting a looper over Nacional’s Jorge Bava, Diaz puts home a nice 22-yard strike that ushers in this year’s group stage.

Barcelona added a second goal eight minutes later to take a surprise lead on their hosts, but second half goals from Sebastian ‘Loco’ Abreu and former Toluca star Ivan Alonso salvaged a draw for the Uruguayans.

There were two other matches on Copa Lib’s Tuesday calendar. Universidad de Chile from Sebastian Ubilla to cruise past Venezuela’s Deportivo Lara, 2-0. In Ecuador, Facundo Ferreyra’s own goal put Argentina’s Velez Sarsfield down at Emelec. When defender Fernando Tobio saw straight red 12 minutes later, Emelec had all they needed for a 1-0 victory.

Copa Lib continues on Wednesday with a blockbuster. Ronaldinho’s Atlético Mineiro hosting one of the most talented clubs on the continent. Fellow Campeonato side Sao Paulo will likely start a team that includes Luis Fabiano, Lucio, Paulo Henrique Ganso, Jadson, and Denilson.

Also on the schedule: Uruguayan titans Peñarol visiting Chile’s Deportes Iquique; Boca Juniors (unlikely to play the newly re-signed Juan Roman Riquelme) hosting Toluca; Fluminese making the long trip to Venezuela to face Caracas; and Peruvians Real Atlético Garcilaso hosting Carlos Valdes and Santa Fe.

MLS Snapshot: Orlando City SC 2-1 Montreal Impact

Cyle Larin, Orlando City SC

The game in 100 words (or less): For weeks, it was a widely held belief that the Montreal Impact would snatch up the sixth and final playoff place in the Eastern Conference with little or no resistance from their opposition. As they went six games unbeaten (four wins), all looked to be setting up perfect for the club that fired Frank Klopas midseason, but there was another team in the race for sixth that kept winning themselves: Orlando City SC. On Saturday night, Montreal and Orlando City faced off at the Citrus, with the expansion Lions claiming their fourth-straight victory with a 2-1 triumph. Montreal now holds a one-point lead on Orlando in the race for sixth, and have two games in hand, but it’s no longer a foregone conclusion L’Impact will qualify for the playoffs no resistance whatsoever.

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Three moments that mattered

33′ — Bush’s mistake gifts Larin the opening goal — Larin did what your taught to do as a striker — “put it on frame, test the goalkeeper” — but in no universe does a shot so feeble have any business finding the back of the net. Evan Bush has been great this year. Hopefully (for Montreal’s sake), this howler doesn’t turn into the yips with the playoffs looming.

43′ — Hall’s “mistake” gifts Oduro an equalizer — Dominic Oduro equalized in the 43rd minute, when he took the ball out of the hands of Tally Hall and smashed it into the back of the net, but the goal should have been disallowed due to Hall having full control of the ball.

80′ — Hines hits the winner for Orlando — Seb Hines put the ball back into the mixer and just so happened to find the back of the net in the 80th minute. Sometimes that’s all it takes.

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Man of the match: Seb Hines

Goalscorers: Larin (33′), Oduro (43′), Hines (80′)

MLS Snapshot: NY Red Bulls 2-1 Columbus Crew SC

Bradley Wright-Phillips, New York Red Bulls
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The game in 100 words (or less): Two weeks in a row Columbus Crew SC have had a chance to go top of the Eastern Conference with a victory, and two weeks in a row Crew SC have failed to take a single point from massively important fixtures. Their latest defeat, a 2-1 humbling at the hands of the East-leading New York Red Bulls, started so well for Gregg Berhalter’s side, but was undone by a pair of costly, comedic defensive errors that allowed Lloyd Sam and Bradley Wright-Phillips (15th of the season) to erase an early deficit (Justin Meram) and win all three points. The result not only keeps the Red Bulls top of the East, but gives them a three- and four-point cushion with three and two games in hand on their nearest competitors., D.C. United and New England Revoltion respectively. For Crew SC, they’re four points back of the Red Bulls in fourth place, one point ahead of fifth-place Toronto FC, who have a game in hand.

[ MORE: | Week 30 TOTW | POTW ]

Three moments that mattered

9′ — Meram pokes it past Robles for an early lead — Meram “earned” his goal all the way back in midfield, when the Iraqi international’s mazy run took a routine turnover inside Crew SC’s defensive half and turned it into a dangerous counter-attacking opportunity. Harrison Afful overlapped and provided the cross for Meram to send home.

12′ — Sam capitalizes on multiple mistakes to equalize — Crew SC pass the ball out of the back. They don’t boot it forward to clear. It’s just what they do. Sometimes, that’ll bite you. When your goalkeeper and right back both have blunders clearing the ball 10 seconds apart, you probably deserve to concede an ugly, scrappy goal.

21′ — Wright-Phillips capitalizes on more defensive gaffes — See the above description for Red Bulls goal no. 1.

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Man of the match: Damien Perrinelle

Goalscorers: Meram (9′), Sam (12′), Wright-Phillips (21′)