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River Plate Uruguay too strong for U. Católica in Sudamericana

SoccerNews in General Soccer News 30 Jul 2008

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An aggressive run and gun style that excited spectators but may have cost a championship in Uruguay for Club Atletico River Plate, continued on its wild path past Universidad Católica (Chile) 2-0 in their first leg of the Copa Sudamerica Preliminary Round fixture to kick start the tournament.

Winners of the 2008 Clausura in the Primera División Uruguaya, River consistently attempted quick give-and-go plays and sent attackers on aggressive runs but could not find a clean look until striker Sergio Souza finished a wild scramble in Católica’s penalty area to put away a partially deflected shot past goalkeeper José María Buljubasich right before halftime and give River the 1-0 lead.

River manager Juan Ramón Carrasco, the former head man of the Uruguay National squad, brought in a high flying offense that produced 93 goals in 35 total national matches during the recently completed season, and it was in full display as his squad kept the pressure up in the second half, keeping play on Católica’s side of the field for long stretches.

It paid off when River midfielder Jorge Rodriguez scored in the 76th minute when he pounced on a poor clearance by Buljubasich that he lobbed in over the out-of-positioned goalie’s head and the clinching score.

Católica, which finished second in the 2008 Aperture of the Primera División de Chile, but have lost two of their first three Clausura matches to date never musted much offense and after a glimmer of offensive creativity showed itself early after halftime momentum switched back to their hyper-aggressive opponents.

However River’s defense which improved greatly as the last campaign progressed, producing a +44 until collapsing in the just finished Liguilla Pre Libertadores, found its way again allowing only one clean look in the first half that River goalie Ernesto Hernandez knocked away easily and thwarted the few threats Catolica managed in the second half.

The two sides will decide who advances to the first round as the second leg will take the teams to Santiago, Chile on Thursday, Aug. 7.

Either Olimpia (Paraguay) or Club Blooming (Bolivia) await in the next round pending who comes out on top of their Preliminary Round tie set to begin Aug. 12.

Copa Sudamerica play continues Wednesday with Deportivo Quito (Ecuador) traveling to Peru to battle Universitario in their first leg of the competition.

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