Sunday, November 8, 2015

Points Are Shared in Clásico Uruguayo

What better place in the world to watch a game of football than a packed Centenario? In the stadium of Uruguay’s 1930 World Cup triumph, it was between old foes Nacional and Peñarol to write a new chapter in their respective histories.


Perfect setting for an entertaining Clásico. (Javier Calvelo / adhoc fotos)

Under the eyes of Uruguay’s last Copa América winners team captain Diego Lugano (now Cerro Porteño/ Paraguay), Nacional took control of the game early and had the first few half chances.

Abero’s shot in the first minute went over the crossbar and after Romero’s excellent ball-winning tackle on MacEachen, Alonso just missed his cross on the far post. Only eight minutes in, the game should have been over for Peñarol’s superstar Diego Forlán. He attacked Porras with an outstretched leg in midfield, caught his opponent and was extremely lucky to only see a yellow card from the otherwise good referee Andrés Cunha.

Possession-wise and in tackles, Nacional continued to be the better team and after more shots from distance from Abero, we were already halfway through the first half. Now the real action started though.

Peñarol’s first chance of the game, 28 minutes in, was the best one so far. Forlán played a beautiful through ball to his striking partner Ifrán, but Conde stoned him 1 on 1. It was the best phase for the “visitors” in the first half, as they continued to have chances through a Forlán header and a shot from Nández. The hosts did not want any of that and picked themselves back up going forward. Leftback Espino nearly went through on a counter, but was stopped by Nández who got back quickly.

Not long after and Forlán was through for the second 1 on 1 of the day against Nacional’s goalkeeper Conde, yet again the winner was the home team’s #1. Just as everyone thought, we’d go to halftime tied at zero, Seba Fernández had a better idea and burned Peñarol’s defense with a strong run down the left flank and found Santiago Romero in the middle. And the rest was just beautiful: The midfielder hit his spot and found the back of the net in the right top corner. 1-0 Nacional!

Right after it could have been two, but in added time of the first half, Iván Alonso hit the post with a header from a freekick. Halftime and Nacional were up deservingly, but had to deal with two huge chances against.


Santiago Romero celebrating his 1-0 goal. (Tenfield)

The second half could sadly not live up to the expectations after an exciting first 45. The beginning parts were again controlled by record champions Nacional, who had opportunities through Alonso and Seba Fernández. In the 64th minute, Abero yet again was wide open in the middle and couldn’t direct his shot on goal after Alonso assisted him.

Finally, Peñarol reentered the second half as well offensively. First Espino challenged a low cross nicely to prevent a scoring chance, and just after Conde came up big again, making a nice positional save on Ifrán. The goal was somewhat coming and when it did it didn’t really surprise anyone anymore. Rightback Aguirregaray reached the end of a long Nández freekick in the 79th minute and scored the equalizer. He was lucky that Romero deflected the ball backwards right into his path. 1-1 Peñarol.


All tied up: Goalscorer of the equalizer, Matias Aguirregaray. (Tenfield)

While both teams continued to fight for every centimeter of the pitch, no more particular good chances came around with that approach. The final score lets Peñarol defend the top spot in Uruguay’s Aperture table, 2 points ahead of Nacional.

When looking at the game as a whole, the 1-1 doesn’t really do it justice. Nacional were the better team and showed it, especially in the first half. Still, they were also lucky due to the better chances on their rival’s side. A weird match.

Man of the match: Esteban Conde. Saved his team with three fantastic saves throughout the game.  


Esteban Conde. (Tenfield)


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