ASUNCION – Paraguayan team Libertad crushed Bolivia’s The Strongest 5-1 on Wednesday in Asuncion’s Nicolas Leoz stadium, with a hat-trick from Argentine forward Adrian Emmanuel Martinez, and qualified for the third phase of the Copa Libertadores.
Both teams started with even chances after last week’s draw in the first leg in La Paz, but the Guarani team’s strength was much higher this time around, especially during the second half.
The next rival of Libertad will be the winner of the match between the Colombian Atletico Nacional and the Venezuelan Deportivo La Guaira.
Libertad opened the scoring with a half-volley shot from Martinez, who took advantage of a rebound lost in the small area to beat Daniel Vaca.
This goal stirred up the Bolivians, who went forward, took advantage of a brief slowdown of the home side and scored the tie in the 45th minute with a header from Adolfo Machado in a set-piece.
After the break, the two teams went out with greater intensity and advanced to the opposing area with quick transitions and long passes.
It was in the 63rd minute when Martinez broke the tie, taking advantage of a mistake by The Strongest goalie Vaca, who went wrong in a cross and failed to catch the ball, allowing the Libertad forward to score a header with ease.
After this goal, the home team took possession of the ball with very long circulations in the rival area, preventing The Strongest from any counter attacks.
The La Paz team could have score another goal for a 2-2 draw but a free-kick from defender Maxi Ortiz on the edge of the area cost them their second yellow card and condemned their team to play with only ten.
Cardozo converted the free-kick, but his shot came so strong that neither the goalkeeper nor the defense managed to clear the ball, which ended on the boots of Martinez who managed to sign his hat-trick in the 77th minute.
Cardozo himself put the icing on the cake by converting one of the best goals of the tournament from the center circle of the field which flew over goalkeeper Vaca, who was way out of his goal.
Cougo scored the last goal in stoppage time with a strong shot from outside the area when The Strongest had already given up.