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Page last updated at 06:54 GMT, Tuesday, 13 May 2008 07:54 UK

Tim Vickery column

Tim Vickery
By Tim Vickery
South American football reporter

Bonnie Tyler
Maybe the San Lorenzo fans will raid the Bonnie Tyler songbook once more and learn the words to 'Holding Out For A Hero.'

Fans of San Lorenzo chant out the name of their club to the tune of the Bonnie Tyler hit 'It's a Heartache.'

They are the only major Buenos Aires club who have yet to win the Copa Libertadores, South America's Champions League, and in this, their centenary year, they are desperate to put that right.

But last Thursday it looked all over when, with a place in the quarter-finals at stake, they were on their way out against local rivals River Plate.

They were already one man down and trailing on away goals when centre-back Jonathan Bottinelli had a moment of madness.

It seemed that he had snuffed out the danger from River Plate striker Radamel Falcao Garcia when he shepherded the ball back his goalkeeper, but then smashed an elbow into his opponent's face.

He was sent off, River Plate had a penalty, Abreu scored and the nine remaining men of San Lorenzo needed to get a goal to force penalties.

It couldn't possibly happen. And it didn't. Because San Lorenzo scored two, and without the trouble of penalties, went through to the quarter-finals 4-3 on aggregate.

For 14 long years San Lorenzo lived a nomadic existence, hiring out the stadiums of other teams

It was an extraordinary display of character - and not the first that San Lorenzo have come up with during the course of this campaign.

They made a very slow start to the Libertadores. The players they brought back from Europe - Andres D'Alessandro, Diego Placente, Gonzalo Bergessio - were looking short of rhythm.

San Lorenzo failed to score in their first two games, and with twenty minutes to go in the third, they were 2-0 down to Real Potosi at extreme altitude in Bolivia and apparently on their way to first round elimination. But they dug deep and turned it round to win 3-2.

But then again there is something heroic in the very existence of San Lorenzo.

Some 30 years ago they fell into financial difficulties, and in 1979 they were forced to sell their stadium.

Ramon Diaz
Ramon Diaz masterminded San Lorenzo's Libertadores shock

One of the biggest and most traditional grounds in Buenos Aires, it was known as the Gasometro, because its structure reminded people of a gasworks. In the early 80's it was demolished and is now a supermarket.

For 14 long years San Lorenzo lived a nomadic existence, hiring out the stadiums of other teams - until in 1993 they were able to inaugurate their new home.

The location is not ideal. San Lorenzo's stadium - known, with more loyalty than imagination as the Nuevo Gasometro - lies alongside a massive shanty town, and transport links are precarious.

Getting to and from the ground can be something of a sacrifice, but the crowds flock, and create a wonderful atmosphere with the drums and non-stop singing.

This Thursday the Nuevo Gasometro has a vital role to play as San Lorenzo go in search of a place in the last four of the Libertadores.

San Lorenzo players celebrate beating River Plate
San Lorenzo overcame the odds to beat River Plate

The club are at home in the first leg of their quarter-final tie against LDU of Ecuador, and will looking to build up a handsome lead as LDU will be especially dangerous in the return match at the altitude of Quito.

In Buenos Aires, the Ecuadorians will carry a threat with the raids of Joffre Guerron down the right flank and Luis Bolanos operating from the left. But they may also struggle to defend in the air.

Last week, LDU managed to hold off Argentine opposition when they beat Estudiantes 3-2 on aggregate.

But in the away leg they were hanging on uncomfortably for long periods, with veteran keeper Cevallos reluctant to come off his line and the centre-backs having problems in the air.

With Bergessio and Silvera up front, San Lorenzo can certainly count on more penalty area presence than Estudiantes.

The Nuevo Gasometro crowd will hope to inspire their team to one more triumph. Maybe the San Lorenzo fans will raid the Bonnie Tyler songbook once more and learn the words to 'Holding Out For A Hero.'

You can put your questions to Tim Vickery every week on the World Football Phone-in on BBC Radio 5 Live's Up All Night programme from 0230 to 0400 BST every Saturday. You can also download last week's World Football Phone-in Podcast.


Got a question about South American football for Tim Vickery? Email him at

Who would be the next rising Brazilian footballer from Under-20 level?

Tad Serter

The stars would be striker Alexandre Pato and defender Breno, but as they are both in Europe already it's unlikely they'll be released for the South American Under-20 Championship at the start of next year.

This year's Brazilian Championship has just kicked off, and one of the most fascinating questions is 'who will come through strong this year?' Attacking midfielder Lulinha and striker Dentinho are in the Second Division with Corinthians, and should have opportunities to shine.

Vasco da Gama have high hopes of their duo Alex Teixeira and Alan Kardec, also hoping to make a name for themselves are Internacional centre back Sidnei, Sao Paulo attacking midfielder Sergio Mota, little Santos striker Tiago Luis.

Some of these will disappoint, others will come through, along with others who may be unknowns now but might be household names by the time the championship ends in December.

Every year the Brazilian Championship can be relied upon to showcase a whole new generation of exciting young talent.

As a Liverpool fan, I'm interested in knowing how highly Emiliano Insua is rated back in Argentina. Has the fact that he left Boca Juniors so young affected his reputation in his own country, or is he viewed as a major talent given how few fullbacks seem to be coming through. He's been by far the stand out player in a very strong reserve side this season, and has sadly had to wait until the last few weeks to get another chance in the first team.

Rhys Williams

He hasn't been forgotten as far as the Olympics are concerned - he was an ever present in the side that won last year's World Youth Cup, so he's part of the process.

But obviously his profile does suffer from moving so early and from the fact that he's out of the limelight.

Another youngster, Fabian Monzon, has been doing well for Boca at left back over recent weeks, and obviously you have a far higher profile in Argentina if you're having success with the country's most popular team rather than playing in the reserves on the other side of the Atlantic - that's the gamble that Insua has taken with his career by moving so soon.

I've heard a lot about Uruguayan striker Bruno Fornaroli recently, particularly as I am a Spurs fan. Have you got any info on the kid?

Steve Evans

Stocky little striker, coming up for 21, with a bit of Peter Beardsley about him - similar build, can twist and turn, tricky with a low centre of gravity, right footed - repertoire includes crafty free kicks - but can also use his left.

I've liked him more every time I've seen him, but I've yet to see anything from him that has got me out of my seat and convinced me he's ready for a step up to the Premier League.

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