By DAN KARELL
The knockout stage of the Copa Libertadores is well underway, and two teams stepped out to important leads in their respective ties.
Argentine power Boca Juniors defeated the Club World Cup champion Corinthians of Brazil, 1-0, at La Bombanera on Wednesday in Buenos Aires. Forward Nicolas Blandi scored the lone goal of the match, beating the offside trap before taking a pass into the box from Cristian Erbes and finishing from close range. Despite not having midfielder Juan Roman Riquelme in the squad, the Argentinian managed to hold off a talented Corinthians attack.
The tie is a rematch of last season’s final, where Corinthians defeated Boca Juniors, 3-1, on aggregate, winning the second leg 2-0. The Brazilian side will have to hope for a repeat performance at home as the scene moves to Sao Paulo.
Also in action on Wednesday night, Brazilian side Gremio defeated Colombian club Santa Fe, 2-1, in their first-leg match in Porto Alegre, with former Napoli forward Eduardo Vargas and Fernando scoring for the hosts, and a penalty kick by Omar Perez for the visitors accounting for the scoring.
Here are some more stories to get your Thursday going:
IMPACT CRUSH TFC TO BOOK PLACE IN CANADIAN CHAMPIONSHIP FINAL
Down two goals after the first-leg of the tie, Montreal fans were probably just hoping for three goals at the best. On Wednesday night, they got six.
The Impact demolished Toronto FC at Stade Saputo in the Canadian Championship semifinals, 6-0, in another embarrassing defeat to Ryan Nelsen’s men. Marco Di Vaio scored a brace and Justin Mapp, Daniele Paponi, Andres Romero, and Andrew Wenger added goals for the Quebec squad to earn a place in the final.
On the other side of the country, the Vancouver Whitecaps coasted to a 2-0 victory over FC Edmonton at BC Place. Corey Herzog scored the game-winner in the 58th minute and a Shaun Saiko own-goal in the 67th minute ended any hope for the NASL side to come back in the tie.
Montreal will host Vancouver in the first-leg of the finals on May 15, with the series moving to Vancouver for the second-leg on May 29.
NEYMAR SCOUTED BY CHELSEA
Chelsea are currently in discussions with the representative of Jose Mourinho to become manager for next season, but it’s not the only Portuguese-speaking target they have their eyes on.
Reports out of England have stated that Chelsea technical director Michael Emenalo has traveled to Brazil to scout 20-year-old Neymar as a potential signing this summer. The hope for the club is likely to team up the Brazilian forward with Mourinho as they prepare for another chance at a Premier League title next season.
The report does state that currently the two sides (Chelsea and Mourinho) are a ways away from an agreement, due to salary and how much control Mourinho would have. Relationships soured back in 2007 when the Portuguese manager left due to him not having full control over transfers and other football matters.
HIGUAIN TARGETED BY JUVENTUS
All season, Juventus have been looking for an out and out target forward. The Italian club failed to bring in Dimitar Berbatov and Didier Drogba in the two most recent transfer windows, but they have their eyes set on Madrid now.
According to reports out of Spain, Juventus manager Antonio Conte and two other club directors were at the Bernabeu Stadium on Tuesday night to scout Real Madrid forward Gonzalo Higuain. The Argentine has scored 15 goals in 24 starts across all competitions this season for the Madrid club. Jose Mourinho has gone with a rotation policy of Higuain and forward Karim Benzema this season, but according to the report, the club would rather keep Benzema and sell off Higuain if having to choose between the two.
Juventus have been rumored to be following many different targets this spring ahead of the summer transfer window, including Barcelona’s Alexis Sanchez, Fiorentina’s Stevan Jovetic, and Paris Saint-Germain’s Zlatan Ibrahimovic.
BALE NAMED FWA PLAYER OF THE YEAR
Gareth Bale continues to add to his personal trophy collection.
On Thursday, the Tottenham midfielder was announced as the Football Writers Association Player of the Year for the 2012-2013 season, his second player of the year award this week and first time winning the award from the FWA.
Bale has scored 19 goals in 29 Premier League matches this season, and another five goals in all competitions, helping him secure the award ahead of Manchester United’s Robin Van Persie and Chelsea’s Juan Mata, finishing second and third, respectively.
Luis Suarez received just one vote for the Player of the Year award.
Reports out of Spain now have Bale as the top transfer target for Real Madrid‘s 2013-2014 campaign, regardless of who is the boss at the Santiago Bernabeu. The report states that it would take a bid of at least €70-75 million for the Welshman to leave the North London club.
England manager Roy Hodgson is considering using Miami as the team’s base before they head off to Brazil in 2014. (REPORT)
Ivan Turina, a Croatian goalkeeper for Swedish side AIK, died in his sleep last night. He was 32-years-old. (REPORT)
Bahrain’s Sheikh Salman bin Ibrahim al-Khalifa has been elected the new president of the Asian Football Confederation. (REPORT)
Wigan’s Honduran midfielder Maynor Figueroa will miss the rest of the season after suffering a groin injury during Wigan’s 2-2 draw with Tottenham. (REPORT)
What do you make of this news? Do you see Boca avenging last year’s defeat on the road? Do you believe Chelsea can tempt Neymar and Mourinho to London? Do you see Juventus landing Higuain?
Share your thoughts below.