Chiapas-based side Jaguares blew a huge opportunity to take a historic step towards the knockout stages of the Copa Libertadores, losing 1-0 at Ecuadorian side Emelec in Group 6 play. A penalty from David Quiroz was the difference on the night, and only some superb goalkeeping from Jaguares' Jorge Villalpando kept the scoreline respectable.
This result, combined with Internacional's easy win over Jorge Wilstermann earlier in the evening, means Jaguares now slip to third place on six points, one behind Emelec and Internacional, with the Brazilians leading on goal differential and having played one game less. Jorge Wilstermann has zero points. Jaguares now need positive results, both at home to Internacional and at Jorge Wilstermann to have a realistic chance of advancing.
As anticipated, Emelec came out of the gates firing, playing a hard pressing game without creating too many early chances. Jaguares were still able to move the ball around when they regained possession, but were largely stifled by a fresh Emelec midfield that had been rested in the weekend's domestic match.
Villalpando came out well to deny Emelec's Paraguayan midfielder, Fernando Giménez in the early goings, the first of a number of Emelec chances. On the other end Emelec 'keeper Javier Klimowicz made a stunning save from a well-struck Antonio Salazar volley, all this after a pinpoint pass from Christian Recodo in the Jaguares midfield. Recodo continued to impose himself on the game as Jagaures relieved some of the pressure on their goal midway through the half.
Emelec picked things up again as the clock ticked down towards halftime, sensing the need for a goal before the break. Quiroz one-timed a long ball perfectly into the path of Cristián Menéndez, but the blond Argentine couldn't finish. Giménez was the next to threaten Villalpando's goal after a mazy run from Wálter Iza, but Jaguares defender Hugo Sánchez got across superbly to block what would have been a fairly simple finish. Jaguares were more patient with their play and happy to go into the break deadlocked at 0-0 after some poor finishing from the home side.
Jaguares started the second half brightly, forcing Klimowicz into an early save, but the game-changing moment came soon after in the 53rd minute. Jaguares defender Omar Flores clumsily hauled down Menéndez in the area, leaving Peruvian referee Víctor Carrillo with no choice but to award the penalty to Emelec. David Quiroz coolly stepped up and blasted the penalty to Villalpando's right. The Jaguares 'keeper got a hand to it, but had no chance to make the save.
The goal forced Jaguares to open up a bit more in search of the equalizer, and Emelec nearly took advantage in the 65th minute when Menéndez, one of Emelec's most dangerous players, put a looping header onto the crossbar. The rebound fell kindly to Giménez, but the Paraguayan somehow contrived to blast it over on the volley.
On the other end, Damián Manso and Francisco Torres combined well to set up youngster Antonio Pedroza, but the English-born forward missed his golden opportunity to equalize. From then on out, Emelec were always looking likely to grab a second as opposed to Jaguares equalizing and Villalpando had to make a number of crucial stops including a fine stop on Ángel Mena followed by a stunning double save from the ground to deny two Emelec players in the space of seconds.
As the final whistle blew, Jaguares were left regretting some very sloppy play going forward that really hindered their ability to create many meaningful chances. Luckily for Jaguares, Emelec have to play their last two games of the group phase away, while Jaguares will at least get to face Internacional at home, but it will still require some sterling performances for the men from Chiapas to make a historic knockout round appearance.