Friday, February 26, 2016

Nacional get point in Rosario - Copa Libertadores

Nico López scores and scores and scores. (Photo: Conmebol)
Estadio Gigante de Arroyito was the stage, Rosario Central and Nacional the opponents. Copa Libertadores action was back in the city of Argentina's league third and runners-up in the cup. Both teams started into the season tremendously, a great recipe for an exciting match!

Nacional were enjoying a brave start to the match and threatened for the first time inside the first five minutes, but a freekick from the right side of the field did not find any takers in the area. Sebastián Fernández, after scoring the winning goal in Uruguay last weekend, got the trust from Múnua to play in the starting XI. He had the first real shot of the match, but went far wide. 

Slowly but surely, the favourite took control of possession afterwards. Central's Aguirre had his attempt saved by Conde and shortly after they had the biggest chance of the match. A mess inside Nacional's area after Espino deflected the ball to an opposing player with Conde unable to clear, but captain Polenta did after all. 

Still, a lot of the game was played in the centre of the field now and fouls disrupted the chance to get much of a flow into this game. About half an hour in, Nacional had their biggest chance themselves. A great counter attack ended with a poor last pass as Nico López played it out to the right, the clearly inferior option. 

As all other opportunities were also nullified by the respective goalkeepers Conde and Sosa, the game went to halftime tied 0-0, definitely a scoreline that Nacional could live with away in Argentina.
Great away support in Argentina tonight.
At the start of the second half, we suddenly had a different image in front of us. Nacional seemed to have an answer for everything Central tried to throw at them and did well offensively now as well. A Barcia shot produced a good save from Sosa, followed up by a diving header hitting the post. So close and yet so far.

In the 56th minute, Uruguay's champion did it better. Nico López, who else, was quickest to react to a low free kick on the edge of the box, turned around and fired it into the bottom corner. All of a sudden, the outsiders had the lead in Argentina.

This goal sparked Rosario Central's last half hour of attacking football. Particularly Marcelo Larrondo's entrance from the bench had a positive impact on their game. Nacional got lucky several times, Espino's clearance that went just over the top of the crossbar (61'), two great low shots (75'+86'). All was topped by an incredible couple of saves on the goalline from goalkeeper Conde and midfielder Porras (78').

Just as we thought the goal was closed for the rest of the night, Larrondo won a penalty in the last minute of the match. Brought down by Victorino after a long cross from the right, he was the one that also stepped up and converted. It was deserved, but a little heartbreaking for Nacional's supporters who thought they had the three points in their bags. In addition, Mauricio Victorino got himself sent off for complaining about his yellow card and the penalty decision.

Yet the away draw remains a great result considering the decent performance on top of it. At home, Nacional can beat anybody. Everyone in Group 2 has one point after respective draws.


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