Thursday, May 28, 2015

Rafael Moura ends Colombian dreams – Internacional to the semi finals

Wednesday evening means Copa Libertadores time, and Internacional SC play hosts for Santa Fe tonight. After having lost the first leg 0-1, the Brazilian side will need to win with at least a two goal margin to advance to the semi finals. So let us get right into it.

It took central defender Juan three minutes, and from two meters out he converted from an Internacional corner. Throughout his career (Leverkusen, Roma) he showed that strength, this might have been just been one of his more important, but also easiest, goals. And the Brazilians had the early lead that they were looking for.

Juan celebrates his early goal in tonight's Copa Libertadores quarterfinal against Santa Fe.

14 minutes into the game, Eduardo Sasha could not continue for the hosts, you would guess the option would be a lot worse, but on came Valdívia. Problems that Santa Fe would like to have. The visitors meanwhile had a relatively hard time getting into the match, the quick opening goal destroyed any sort of defensive plan. 

Chances remained a rare good ever since Juan scored, you would not be the happiest person in the world if you saw the Europa-League final earlier in the evening and are just out for pure entertainment in this one. 28th minute: most exciting thing is Valdívia taking a knock now. Maybe the position is cursed? Maybe it is a sign that the red and white should defend? Nope, he can continue, a sigh of relief from every Internacional fan watching their team. Santa Fe improved a little at this stage, but could still not find any clear cut opportunities. Also not in the 35th, when goalkeeper Alisson served the Colombians the equalizer on a silver platter twice with awful passes. All it did was end up in a collision and treatment for the keeper, and that sums up this first half beautifully. 

Always a bit of a bummer when a game starts off in an exciting fashion only to completely die off then. Maybe the second half will have a little more action in it. At this stage, you have every right to consider going to sleep. Since I started this article, I might as well finish it though. 

And here we go again, come on now teams, do something for every fan and viewer! Apparently those fans enjoyed themselves at least, singing their songs in the pouring rain. Santa Fe managed something they did not all first half, a top class chance, but a cross from the right was just missed by two attacking players in the middle of the area. Just so we have mentioned it, right now there would be penalties after 90 minutes if nothing changes. A couple of minutes later, Internacional had their first quality attempt, Valdívia was denied by a fine reflex from Leandro Castellanos. The Brazilians kept the pressure up and took over the game, finally showing their supremacy on paper on the pitch as well. On the other hand, coach Diego Aguirre took it a little too far and was sent to the stands by the referee. 

He was not the only one. In the 67th minute, Internacional striker Nilmar ran right into opposition defender Mosquera, who could not get out of his way. He got a yellow card nevertheless. That was his second and Santa Fe were down to ten men in this tough away game. Nilmar could not continue either and had to be substituted while looking very shaken up. At this point, I would expect the Colombians to go for the penalty shootout and test their luck. Barely would you see more than two attacking players trying to counter in the Brazilian’s half. 

Andres D’Alessandro continued the big final push for the home team, yet again a fantastic short side save by Castellanos kept Santa Fe in it. Juan with another header nearly scored his second goal in the 82nd minute, but he could not find the back of the net either. While I complained a lot about the first half, the second makes up for it. And while I am still typing this, Yulian Ancheco is the next guest player sent off after kicking a Brazilian player on the ground. The task to defend a 0-1 loss did just get even harder. 

What had to happen inevitably happened then. Substitute Rafael Moura went high into the air and headed another corner into the back of the net in the 88th minute for which looked like the decisive goal and it would be deserved after the massive improvement of form from Internacional in the second 45 minutes. A glorious chance to end the whole tie was missed in epic fashion by Lisandro Lopez, who stood wide open right in front of goal only to hit the post and then put the rebound wide of the far side. It did not come back to bite them. Internacional win 2-0 and manage the turnaround to reach the Copa semi final.

Notes around the Copa Libertadores:

Tigres come from behind to knock out Emelec: The Mexicans won their home game 2-0 after having lost the first leg 0-1 in Ecuador. The highest seeded team therefore advances to the semi final to meet Internacional. A first final with a Mexican team since 2010, when C.D. Guadalajara lost to that same Internacional, looks possible. Rafael Sóbis gave UANL Tigres an early lead in the 6th minute by converting a direct freekick, José Rivas sealed the game with a header from a deflection right in front of goal (80’).


Post a Comment