Thursday, April 28, 2016

Nacional unlucky in draw with Corinthians

The Copa Libertadores round of 16 continued last night with three matches. In Montevideo, Nacional hosted Corinthians to build a good base for the second leg. It did not fully work out for them.

The captains with the refereeing team before kickoff. (Photo:
Copa Libertadores nights are always special ones. Under the floodlights of Gran Parque Central, Uruguay's champion produced a decent performance against the favourite from Brazil. Only little detail that was missing at the end was the goalscoring. Yet another game ended 0-0 in the last few days. 


Not many personnel changes were needed as Gustavo Munúa trusted the team that beat Fénix in the league with one exception. Santiago Romero returned from his yellow card suspension and replaced Felipe Carballo in central midfield. Corinthians rotated back a lot of regulars into the side that had been left out against Cobresal. 

First half

Nacional started the game on the front foot trying to assert their home team advantage. A bit of a mess in front of Cássio's goal had the goalkeeper scrambling, but his teammates finally managed to knock it clear for him. On the other side of the pitch, a freekick created first danger for Esteban Conde's goal as Romero headed back towards his own keeper, who ended up making a comfortable save though. 

As time went on, it turned into an all-Uruguayan affair. Chances from Nico López (10', 15', 27') were either denied by a solid Cássio or went wide. The biggest chance of them all the last one, when López was wide open in the area and knocked it past the goalkeeper, but also past the goal. 

Midfield engine Romero had a good chance at the other end about half an hour into the game, but his powerful header went flying over the bar. It went to the break tied at zero.

Second half

The second 45 minutes were a little slower when it comes to big chances. Nacional kept their previously won control of the game and left Corinthians no room to attack. 

Sebastián Fernández' header came close again (64'), nicely assisted by Leandro Barcia's cross from the right side. Cássio made the save, but only into the middle where his defenders had to help him out again before López could reach the ball. 

70 minutes in, Cássio did really well on the line then, making a good save on Mauricio Victorino's header following a freekick. It turned out to be the last big chance of the evening, because Corinthians' substitutes did not have the impact coach Tite was hoping for. Marlone and Ángel Romero both scored twice against Cobresal, but were non-existent in the home team's strong back four.


On the day it was Nacional who were deserving of the victory for certain. They had all the chances, threatened throughout the game with dangermen López and Fernández. At the end, Cássio and a little luck kept them from taking a big advantage with them to Brazil next week. 

While Corinthians' back line had a lot more on their hands than Nacional's, the Uruguayans did really well and still did not concede a goal against a Brazilian side this season (1-0 over Palmeiras twice). If they can reproduce a similar performance away next week, they have every chance to advance, especially when scoring an away goal. 


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