By Robbie Blakeley, Senior Contributing Reporter
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – Botafogo lost 1-0 to Deportivo Quito of Ecuador last night in the Copa Libertadores preliminary round first leg at the Atahualpa Olympic Stadium in the Ecuadorian capital. The Glorioso put in a lethargic performance, as they visibly struggled with the altitude during the second half.
The narrow defeat means the Cariocas will need to win by a two-goal margin next week at the Maracanã Stadium to qualify for the group stages. It was the club’s first appearance in the competition since 1996, but any hopes of a dynamic return were dashed in a game played 2,800 meters above seal level.
The winner of the tie will progress to Group 2 of the Libertadores. They will line up alongside Independiente del Valle, also of Ecuador, Unión Española of Chile and Argentina’s San Lorenzo.
The home side were more threatening in the opening exchanges, sending high balls into the Botafogo area, which Jefferson managed to deal with. Yet he could do nothing about the game’s only goal on eighteen minutes.
Dória’s poor clearance found the feet of Estupiñán, who calmly steered the ball into the bottom right-hand corner of the net. Botafogo needed to react, but failed to play cohesive football during an uninspired first half.
The Brazilians played at a higher tempo at the beginning of the second, but it was Quito who had the ball in the back of the net again. However, González’s effort was ruled out for offside.
As the game wore on, the Botafogo players got tired and the production line to the front all but dried up. Quito had two clear chances to double their lead but were wasteful in front of goal. It is now up to Botafogo to punish such profligacy next week in Rio. Over 14,000 tickets have already been sold for the club’s biggest game in almost twenty years.
Read more (in Portuguese).
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