Published on April 3rd, 2014 | by John Lyons0
Ecstatic Unión celebrate famous Libertadores win at the Maracaná
Jubilant Unión Española earned one of the best results in their history by beating Botafogo 1-0 in the legendary Maracaná stadium last night.
Río de Janeiro – The rojos travelled to Brazil knowing that a victory would book their place in the last 16 of the Copa Libertadores with a game to spare. But it was never going to be easy against a Botafogo side who had the same mission.
Unión were indebted to keeper Diego Sánchez who had an excellent match and made a number of vital saves. His heroics were rewarded when the visitors notched the only goal of the match in the 71st minute.
After Sebastián Jaime had been brought down in the box by Julio César, experienced striker Gustavo Canales kept his cool to score from the spot and give his side the lead.
Unión were forced on the defensive in the final 20 minutes, but solid defending and fine goalkeeping by Sánchez kept the Brazilians out.
To put into context Unión´s famous victory, it was Botafogo´s first home defeat in the Copa Libertadores since 1973, when Colo Colo won 2-1.
In addition, the rojos became the fourth Chilean team to win at the Maracaná – following in the footsteps of Colo Colo (1973), Universidad Católica (2002) and Universidad de Chile (2010).
The victory enabled José Luis Sierra´s men to leapfrog Botafogo to the top of Group 2. Unión, who are unbeaten, have nine points from five matches, while the Brazilians have seven.
Ecuador´s Independiente del Valle and Argentina´s San Lorenzo de Almagro are on five points.
It means the Santa Laura outfit go into next Wednesday´s final group match at home against Independiente in relaxed mood, knowing they are already through to the last 16. Botafogo must now travel to Argentina to take on San Lorenzo in a crucial final game showdown.
Universidad de Chile will hope to follow in Unión´s footsteps this evening. La U host another Brazilian side, Cruzeiro, at the Estadio Nacional and know that a draw will be enough for them to go through to the last 16.
If they don´t achieve it, they´ll face a make-or-break final Group 5 game at Uruguay´s Defensor Sporting next Wednesday.