SAO PAULO – Palmeiras got a hat trick from Colombian forward Miguel Borja in a 3-1 victory over Atletico Junior in the Copa Libertadores, wrapping up a dominating run of games in Group H.
Wednesday night’s contest at Allianz Parque stadium in Sao Paulo proved to be a showcase for a pair of players competing for a spot on the Colombian national team’s final World Cup roster: Borja and Teofilo “Teo” Gutierrez.
Colombian-league side Junior had a chance in the ninth minute when Teo received a pass in the area from Jarlan Barrera, but he was unable to convert past Palmeiras goalkeeper Fernando Prass.
Teo then got off a potent volley from the penalty arc in the 39th minute before Jesus Murillo had a chance on a header a minute later, but Prass denied both attempts with diving saves.
Borja, for his part, had a good chance in the 29th minute but sent the ball high over the crossbar, while Dudu was unable to beat Junior net minder Mario Viera in a one-on-one opportunity.
But Borja finally got his team on the board in the 51st minute on a shot that went into the goal off a defender’s leg after Viera had mishandled a cross into the area.
Junior had a chance to tie the game three minutes later, but Prass managed to stop Barrera’s penalty try.
Borja added two more goals in the 59th and 68th minutes, while Teo scored a tap-in goal in the 66th minute off a pass from fellow Colombian international Yimmi Chara.
With its defeat and Argentine club Boca Juniors’ 5-0 victory Wednesday night over Peruvian side Alianza Lima, Junior was eliminated from the Copa Libertadores.
As the third-placed team in its group, the Colombian squad will next compete in the second stage of the Copa Sudamericana, South America’s secondary club soccer tournament.
Palmeiras, which had already clinched first place in Group H with a 3-1 win over Alianza Lima in its penultimate round-robin match on May 3, finished that opening stage of South America’s premier club soccer competition with a record of 5-1-0 and will learn its next opponent when the round of 16 draw is held on June 4.