Tag Archives: Irven Ávila

Deportivo Táchira 0-0 Sporting Cristal – 2015 Copa Libertadores Group 8 (8 April 2015)

Wednesday 8 April 2015

2015 Copa Libertadores Group 8

Deportivo Táchira 0-0 Sporting Cristal 

Polideportivo de Pueblo Nuevo, San Cristóbal

Highlights of Deportivo Táchira 0-0 Sporting Cristal, 2015 Copa Libertadores Group 8, 8 April 2015 (Video courtesy of YouTube user xpertowinner)

Táchira Bow Out as Cristal’s Fortunes Hang in the Balance

In their penultimate group game, Deportivo Táchira’s elimination from this year’s Copa Libertadores was confirmed following a relatively uneventful encounter with Peruvian champions Sporting Cristal. 

Without getting a real opportunity on target, it was the visitors who edged the first half, often looking to attack from the flanks, with left-back Alexis Cossío – who recently featured at the Under-20 South American Youth Championship – delivering the bulk of the crosses. The closest they came to a goal occurred in the 30th minute as a free-kick delivered by Argentina-born Horacio Calcaterra was headed by Irven Ávila at the backpost past goalkeeper José Contreras, necessitating a desperate hooked clearance on the line by Carlos Rivero.

By contrast, the hosts were more reliant on long balls, pumping them upfield to be chased by the likes of Pablo Olivera who, to the increasing irritation of the home fans, was to often find himself in offside positions. However, their best opportunity, which arrived in the 38th minute, came via a more direct route as Yohandry Orozco – who impressed so much last time out that boos greeted his removal from the field – dribbled up the inside-right towards the area. Yet, the lack of threat offered by Táchira in this period was exemplified by the outcome of this attack as Orozco’s left-footed shot was struck without venom and thus comfortably saved by erstwhile Burnley goalkeeper Diego Penny.

A small mercy was to be afforded to the spectactors inside the ground – which, in marked contrast to the full house for the first home game against Racing, was well under half its capacity – as the second half was to be marginally more entertaining. The majority would have been pleased to see the hosts enjoy the greater of the chances and, to some extent, change tact with more opportunities being derived from the runs of the likes of Orozco and, latterly, substitute José Alí Meza.

Their best chances were to come in quick succession with the half barely five minutes old. Firstly, having had another run abruptly halted by Cossio, Orozco won a free-kick on the edge of the area, which he himself curled over the wall only to see it rebound straight back off the post. Subsequently, the ball fell to Olivera who instinctively knocked it past Penny yet, once again, he was standing in an offside position and thus the goal was ruled out. Just a minute later, Orozco was to find himself over on the left, from where he ran past a defender and slid the ball low across the area to Olivera yet, from a hugely advantageous position, the Uruguayan striker was to squander what was a golden opportunity by tapping the ball wide.

Throughout the rest of this half, Orozco was to continue to spread uncertainty amongst the Cristal back line and Olivera was to find himself offside time and time again before being substituted, but the chances that occurred at the opening of the half were to remain the hosts’ best. The Peruvians, though less successful from the flanks in this period, were to gradually recover from the early threats and had their best overall chance in the 69th minute. This came following a cross from the right that was struck sweetly on the volley in the centre by substitute Renzo Sheput, from which Contreras, with little time to think, managed to pull off a superb one-handed save on the stretch.

In the remaining 20 minutes of regulation time, while both sides continued their forward forays, aside from the odd half-chance and, in the case of the visitors, a half-hearted penalty shout, neither was to seriously threaten the opposition goal. However, following a last-minute red card for Cristal substitute Edinson Chávez, one final opportunity to win the match was to be had, though despite the implorations in the crowd, this was not to fall to the hosts. Instead, Sheput, with what was virtually the last kick of the game, curled a swerving left-footed free-kick from 35 yards just inches wide of the post.

With the game ending in a goalless draw, nobody in the Pueblo Nuevo was particularly surprised to see the Venezuelans eliminated. However, while a point against the Peruvian champions is not to be sniffed at, they may feel an opportunity to claim the first victory in this year’s group stage for their country was missed. As their final opponents, leaders Racing (9 points), are not yet confirmed as the top dog in the group and so are unlikely to field a weakened side, nobody will be expecting Táchira to be the Venezuelan side to rectify this sorry state of affairs next week. By contrast, Sporting Cristal (6 points) will have significantly more to play for in their home tie against Guaraní (8 points), as both know only one can reach the knock-out stage.

Nevertheless, though it has been a rather forgettable year for Venezuelan teams in this year’s Copa Libertadores, for those who are still curious to see if any of them (Zamora and Mineros de Guayana, as well as Deportivo Táchira) can gain that as-yet-elusive win, be sure to continue checking back on this site and/or on @DarrenSpherical.

Darren Spherical

@DarrenSpherical

Peru 0-1 Venezuela – International Friendly (31 March 2015)

International Friendly

Tuesday 31 March 2015 – Lockhart Stadium, Fort Lauderdale, Florida, USA

Peru 0-1 Venezuela

Match Highlights of Peru 0-1 Venezuela, International Friendly, 31 March 2015 (Courtesy of YouTube user Claudio Navarro Vargas)

La Vinotinto Bounce Back as Starlet Martínez Restores Optimism

Team Selections

Peru (4-2-3-1): Gallese; Advíncula, Zambrano, Ramos, Céspedes; Ballón, Tapia; Carrillo (Benavente, 71′), Deza (Cueva, 30′), Hurtado (Gonzáles, 84′); Ávila (Ruidíaz, 71′).

Venezuela (4-2-3-1): Baroja; Rosales, Vizcarrondo, Túñez, Amorebieta; Rincón, Seijas (Lucena, 68′); Guerra (A. González, 90+2′), Martínez (Arango, 64′), C. González (Vargas, 78′); S. Rondón (M. Rondón, 90+3′).

Match Report

In what was an open and often fiercely contested international, Torino forward Josef Martínez’s strike on the hour-mark was enough to give La Vinotinto a morale-boosting win against their Copa América Group C rivals. 

As Brazil and Colombia are also in this group, the encounter on 18 June between these two nations may prove decisive in determining whether either can qualify for the knock-out stage as one of the two best-peforming third-placed sides. Venezuela, having just four days prior been defeated by Jamaica – another side with marginal hopes of reaching the second phase of this competition – will be pleased, not to mention relieved, to have gone some way to getting back on track with this victory. Had they not, the pessimism that has occasionally been expressed in the national media in the first eight months of Noel Sanvicente’s reign possibly would have permeated throughout the squad before a Copa ball had even been kicked.

This Vinotinto performance, though far from flawless, was nevertheless an improvement, with the side linking up more effectively in attacking positions, creating far more chances and conceding less ground in defensive areas. The more frequent forward forays can partly be attributed to three changes, namely the use of Luis Manuel Seijas as a deep-lying playmaker and, more significantly further upfield, Alejandro Guerra and Josef Martínez – both of whom had provided rare offensive optimism after they came on at half-time against Jamaica.

Here at the Lockhart Stadium – home to NASL’s Fort Lauderdale Strikers, whose pitch is evidently also used for American Football games – this attacking prowess was to be mostly demonstrated in the second half, with the first being a more even, albeit spirited, affair.

Indeed, Venezuela – in their blindingly luminous new away kit – began promisingly, with Martínez gaining some space on the inside-right within the first minute, though perhaps twisted one too many times in the area, thus allowing the defender to recover and block out any potential shot. Ten minutes later, the Serie A striker was to link up with Atlético Nacional’s Guerra on the inside-right, gaining space and putting in a low cross that rolled into space but was nevertheless dealt with. It was to be the Colombia-based Guerra who created La Vinotinto‘s best chance of the half when, on 26 minutes, he dinked in a ball from the right byline that went over goalkeeper Pedro Gallese but just evaded the agonising stretch of Zenit forward Salomón Rondón at the back post.

However, it was not to be all one-way traffic, with the Peruvians – who were missing top exports such as Paolo Guerrero, Jefferson Farfán, Claudio Pizarro and Juan Manuel Vargas – also exploiting space on the right in what was a rather even half. With what proved to be the only real efforts on goal in this period, both of Peru’s best chances came around the midway point and each fell to Jean Deza, currently plying his trade with Alianza Lima on loan from Ligue 1 outfit Montpellier. First, on 21 minutes, Luis Advíncula nudged the ball though to Deza in a central position and he gained some space before hitting a deflected shot that was comfortable for Alain Baroja. Six minutes later, the Caracas FC goalkeeper was again not to have too much trouble saving another effort that went into his arms from the edge of the area from Deza. Unfortunately for the Peruvian, despite looking like his side’s most likely scorer, this was to be his last contribution to the game as he was hurt by an incoming challenge and had to be withdrawn.

Though the first half was rather open and contested with a spirit that was refreshing for a friendly – possibly influenced by the buoyant expatriates in the crowd – this was to be turned up an extra notch or two after the interval, with both sides having more chances to score. Adherents to certain psychological methods may feel Venezuela coach Sanvicente helped to precipitate this by sending his charges out a few minutes before Los Incas. If so, it was to pay nearly instant dividends when a free-kick from a deep position was lofted into the area, then headed across by Oswaldo Vizcarrondo to Salomón Rondón who, under some defensive pressure, leant back slightly to scoop an attempt just over. On another day, he may well have been able to wrestle himself into some space before getting a snap-shot away.

Ten minutes into the new half, it was looking as if the game may boil over with three players – André Carrillo, Roberto Rosales and Josef Martínez – receiving yellow cards in quick succession, bringing the total number of players on a yellow card up to five. However, while the scrapes and skirmishes did not halt at this point, the cards did, with instead the real action – and what proved to be the pivotal moment – occurring soon afterwards.

Indeed, just before the hour-mark, the Peruvians were to suddenly gain some space on right, with a subsequent cross put into the area where it was met by Sporting Cristal marksman Irven Ávila. However, despite being in acres of room and being granted an age to direct his header, he could only nod it against the ground for it to clip off the top of the bar and over. The fact that the offside flag had gone up did little to spare his blushes.

However, little time was available to dwell on his poor finishing as immediately from Baroja’s pumped upfield clearance, Salomón Rondón flicked on the ball with Martínez taking it into his stride before unleashing a clinical right-footed shot from inside the area past Gallese. The versatile Torino forward, still a mere 21 years old, had given Venezuela the breakthrough. Yet, in a move that may have been planned before the goal, this highly promising starlet was almost immediately replaced by the undisputed icon of the past decade, Juan Arango.

Several minutes later it looked as if Sanvicente was looking to preserve this lead rather than extend it, as he took off Seijas, the attack-minded deep-lying playmaker, and replaced him with the more reserved, holding midfielder, Franklin Lucena. Yet if this was this intention, it was certainly not how the remaining 22 minutes panned out.

Indeed, La Vinotinto were to have several strong opportunities to increase the score as the Peruvians increasingly conceded possession and space. In the 76th minute, Arango burst forward slightly to the right-of-centre 30 yards out but, with only one defender separating him and Rondón, his pass went slightly askew, forcing the Zenit man into a wide position from where he could only win a corner. A couple of minutes later, Rondón attempted to turn provider when a poor clearance was rapidly headed into his path on the right, which he quickly released into the area but his intended target, César González, was in a difficult position and was unable to direct it goalwards. Another two minutes passed and Rondón again nearly set up a goal as he flicked on a ball centrally for Arango who, just inside the area, momentarily had a clear sight of goal, but a defender was ultimately to catch up and put him off making a meaningful connection with the ball.

Three minutes after this Arango was to have another, arguably better, chance to score as a cross sprayed from the right by Guerra drifted over two players tangling in the centre all the way to the Xolos de Tijuana man on the left of the area. Blessed with considerable time to shape up and shoot with only a defender’s desperate lunge separating him and the goalkeeper, he nevertheless dragged his shot wide of the far post.

With just three minutes remaining, Arango nearly managed to go some way towards making up for these wasted opportunities when, from the left inside the area, he slid the ball through to Guerra. Yet, from a mere seven yards out, ‘El Lobo’ was to sidefoot a very presentable opportunity straight at the chest of Gallese who managed to parry it out.

From then on, in stoppage-time Venezuela were to have one final opportunity to extend the lead. Following some rapid – and, in contrast to the majority of previous games, effective – short passing play, substitute Ronald Vargas curled in a fine cross from the left that Rondón ran onto but, perhaps due to a slight mis-timing of his run, headed over from just outside the six-yard box.

Though Venezuela had all these chances to record a more impressive victory, they could have also conceded on more than one occasion. Indeed, while the Peruvians were ultimately second-best in this half, they did continue to threaten, having a couple of penalty shouts turned down as well as, in addition to Ávila’s header against the bar, two opportunities that on another day could well have gone in. The most notable of the two came on 82 minutes when Paços de Ferreira’s Paolo Hurtado played an exquisite return pass to Alianza Lima’s Christian Cueva who, from eight yards out, volleyed a strike that seemed destined to go in but which Baroja did very well to parry out wide. This was a close shave, as was, more literally, Christofer Gonzáles’s shot a few minutes later. The Universitario substitute played a quick one-two from a free-kick then, 35 yards out, hit a fine effort that dipped only marginally over the crossbar.

Ultimately, La Vinotinto were to hold on, attaining what many will feel was the country’s first real victory under manager Noel Sanvicente, due to the other two against Honduras being in games contested solely by home-based players. While nobody should be getting too carried away given that the opposition were not at full strength and were experimenting in Ricardo Gareca’s first game in charge, it was nevertheless a boost following the dispiriting performance against Jamaica.

Quite where this all leaves the hopes of some of the players not entirely sure of their ticket to Chile in June is another matter, but several things taken from these two friendly matches can nevertheless be asserted. For some reflections on the Jamaica and Peru games, click here.

Darren Spherical

@DarrenSpherical