Internacional met Chivas in the first leg of their Copa Libertadores final last night, seeking to replicate the success of their 2006 win in the tournament. A 2-1 win on the night puts the Porto Alegre side in pole position to do just that in next week's return leg.
Chivas 1-2 Internacional
With midfield dynamo Tinga suspended after his semi-final expulsion, Celso Roth handed a start to Giuliano, the team's lucky charm in the competition so far. Having scored in both the quarter and semi-finals, the youngster would again prove decisive in Guadalajara, netting the goal that dragged Inter back on level terms. The Colorado, as ever, were set up to attack; with full-backs Kléber and Nei spending far more time in the opposition half than in their own.
It was an approach which saw Inter dominate the early exchanges. Adapting swiftly to the artificial turf in the new Estádio Omnilife (!), the away side, inspired by the superb Andrés D'Alessandro, racked up over 70% of possession in the opening ten minutes, leaving Chivas chasing shadows. Chances however, were few and far between; Alecsandro was often isolated up front before being forced off with a thigh injury. As the interval loomed, it looked like both sides would settle for going into the break on level terms, but a sucker punch saw Chivas score with the last touch of the half. Adolfo Bautista (bizarrely wearing a Michael Jackson-esque single white glove), ran onto a searching cross before heading magnificently over Renan in the Inter goal.
It was Chivas who started the second half in better shape; Inter seemingly rattled by their late concession. It took some sturdy defending from Índio and Bolívar (as well as the imposing physical presence of Sandro in midfield) to stop the Mexican side doubling their advantage. The Colorado weathered the storm, however, and drew level when the Giuliano drifted unmarked into the box to head home Kléber's pinpoint cross. Just three minutes later, Inter were ahead. D'Alessandro's cross was intelligently headed back into the dangerzone by substitute Rafael Sobis, where a diving Bolívar glanced past Chivas 'keeper Michel. The players sprinted over to celebrate with Celso Roth and the substitutes, knowing that the goal puts them in the driving seat in this final. The tie would finish 2-1, leaving Chivas a mountain to climb in the South of Brazil.
(Photo credit; EFE.)