BUENOS AIRES - Troubled Colombian side
Once Caldas beat San Martin 2-0 away in Peru to snatch a berth
in the last 16 of the Libertadores Cup on Tuesday.
Holders Internacional also reached the knockout phase as
Group Six winners with a 2-0 home victory over Emelec of Ecuador
with Mexico's Chiapas going through in second place.
Caldas, the 2004 champions who went into the match in Lima's
port district of Callao bottom of Group One without a win, were
under intense pressure.
The team had lost four Colombian league games in a row and
the club were facing a domestic 30-day suspension over unpaid
wages to the squad announced earlier in the day.
"I'm immensely happy. This (result) is thanks to the efforts
of all the players and the coaching staff who stuck together in
these difficult times," man-of-the-match Dayro Moreno told Fox
Caldas coach Juan Carlos Osorio said: "Great credit to the
lads today with their response. They kept their goal intact
without renouncing their commitment to attack."
Striker Wason Renteria put Caldas ahead after a quarter of
an hour when he turned on Moreno's pass to shoot from the edge
of the box inside the left-hand post.
Uruguayan midfielder Claudio Mirabaje increased their lead
16 minutes from time with a superbly placed free-kick and
frustrated San Martin had two players sent off in the final 10
Unbeaten Libertad of Paraguay, who had already qualified,
won Group One with 14 points after a 2-0 victory over Mexico's
San Luis in Asuncion. Caldas finished second with seven points,
one more than San Martin.
In Group Six Internacional, crowned South American champions
for the second time last year, finished four points ahead of
Chiapas who qualified despite a 2-1 defeat away to Bolivia's
Wilstermann. Emelec finished a point behind the Mexican team.
Former Brazil striker Rafael Sobis put Inter ahead early in
the second half when Emelec's Argentine goalkeeper Javier
Klimowicz appeared to stop his downward header only to let the
ball slip from his grasp over the line.
On coach Falcao's debut in the competition having replaced
the sacked Celso Roth, Inter went further ahead near the end
with a goal from Brazil striker Leandro Damiao after Klimowicz
had parried midfielder Pablo Guinazu's shot.
Wilstermann, playing in the competition after being
relegated from the Bolivian first division at the end of last
year, picked up their first win to finish bottom of the group
with four points.
The other teams to have qualified before Wednesday's final
games in Groups Three and Five include former champions
Cruzeiro, Estudiantes, Gremio, LDU Quito, Penarol and Velez
Sarsfield. Colombia's Atletico Junior and Universidad Catolica
of Chile are also through.
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