CARACAS – Argentine striker Bernardo Cuesta sent Peru’s Melgar into the Copa Libertadores group stage on Tuesday when he scored the only goal in his team’s 2-1 loss to Venezuela’s Caracas in the second leg of the third stage of the continental tournament.
The Argentine forward took advantage of a loose ball at the end of regulation time to score his 96th goal and become the Arequipa club’s top foreign scorer.
Despite the loss, Melgar is still in Group F of the Copa Libertadores – where Argentina’s San Lorenzo, Brazil’s Palmeiras and Colombia’s Junior de Barranquilla all wait – thanks to a 2-0 win over Caracas at the Stadium of the UNSA last week.
However, Melgar struggled and nearly stayed out of the cup after being slow and predictable in Caracas.
It was the locals who set the pace of the match, especially with runs by young Eduardo Fereira.
It was Fereira who opened the scoreboard in the stoppage time of the first half with a shot that goalkeeper Carlos Caceda could not manage to avert.
Then entered Richard Celis, who scored the 2-0 with a powerful shot from the left after a great pass from Ricardo Martins, who used the surname Cardoso on his shirt.
Celis could have scored another goal that would have been a ticket to the group stage for Caracas, but failed to score with a cross from the right.
When it seemed that Melgar was satisfied with defining the pass from the penalty spot, Cuesta, who played unaccompanied in attack and suffered the rigor of Muriel and Villanueva during the 90 minutes, scored with a half volley.
Martins’ good game was overshadowed by his expulsion with a red card just seconds before the end, after starring in a violent foul.