Sunday, 7 December 2008

Chile: Colo Colo and Palestino Set For Clausura Showdown

Colo Colo and Deportivo Palestino will contest the final of the Chilean Clausura after both sides progressed from the semi-finals on the away goals rule.

Colo Colo had drawn 3-3 away to Cobreloa Calama in the first leg of their semi-final, but were soon behind in Saturday's second leg when Argentine striker Rodrigo Mannara put Cobreloa ahead inside the opening 15 minutes.

However, with the free-scoring Lucas Barrios on their books, Los Albos always offer a goal threat, and it was a double strike either side of half-time from the sought-after striker that tipped the tie back in their favour.

First, the 24 year old expertly controlled Miguel Riffo's knockdown before prodding the ball into the back of the net, and then for his second, latched onto Macnelly Torres' through-ball, turned a defender and blasted the ball home at the near post.

Barrios' double took him to 35 goals for the year, beating the benchmark set by Humberto Suazo in 2006 and putting him just two shy of Colo Colo's all-time scoring record of 37 - achieved by Luis Hernan Alvarez in 1963 - with the two-legged final still to be played.

Cobreloa put up a decent fight and were able to level the scores with twenty minutes left to play through a Daniel González spot-kick, but were unable to find what would have been a winning goal. With the match ending 2-2, Colo Colo progressed by virtue of their three away goals to Cobreloa's two.

Deportivo Palestino had come back from two goals down away to Rangers Talca in the first leg of their semi-final clash and it was the 93rd minute own goal from Rangers keeper Rodolfo Ferrando in that fixture that proved to be the difference between the sides as the second leg ended goalless.

The home side put up a strong defensive front at the Estadio Municipal de La Cisterna, with a number of Palestinians having made the 8,000+ mile trip to see the team in action, and were able to comfortably resist the largely ineffective Rangers attack for the duration of the ninety minutes.

Victory on the away goals rule allowed Palestino reached their first Chilean league final since 1986. They have not won the championship since 1978 and will face a tough task trying to break their thirty year duck against a Colo Colo side that have won four of the last five Chilean titles, and who were close runners up to Everton in the Apertura earlier this year.

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