Sunday, May 1, 2016

Nacional struggle with Sud América challenge

Nacional finished off week 10 in Uruguay with their visit to Sud América. "Visit" as they played in the Estadio Centenario. The Tricolor had to win to stay on track on their way to another Uruguayan championship. After Plaza Colonia could only manage a draw earlier, three points would take Nacional to the top of the league. 

Estadio Centenario.
Going into the game, Gustavo Munúa made five changes. Erick Cabaco and Christián Tabó replaced captain Diego Polenta (suspended) and Kevin Ramírez. Elsewhere, Nacho González, Matías Cabrera and Leo Gamalho rotated into the lineup for Leandro Barcia, Felipe Carballo and Sebastián Fernández.

Sud América beat Villa Teresa 1-0 in their last outing and change their XI on two positions: Santiago Carrera and Nicolás Royón replace the suspended Julián Perujo and Gonzalo Malán. 

First half

The home team enjoyed a bright start. Sud América were exposing holes throughout the favourite's side quickly with aggressive pressing in the opening stages. Good opportunities, mainly shots from the edge of the area, were the result. Royón shot wide, Rodríguez over the bar and Gallego even further over the top of the goal.

It took Nacional about 20 minutes to shake off the early problems they suffered from early. Finally, 25 minutes in, Nico López fired a first shot towards Javier Irazún's goal, which the goalkeeper had no trouble dealing with. It was a first sense of the speed Nacional is able to bring into any game after an opposition corner. However, Sud América continued to threaten offensively and kept their opponent's backline tied to defensive work. It hurt Nacional on the wings in particular, where Fucile and Espino usually support their offensive colleagues magnificently.

While Nico López had a good chance with a low shot to the far post shortly before halftime, only one team deserved the lead at the break: Sud América. They took it in the 45th minute. A long hopeful ball seemed easy enough to deal with until Facundo Rodríguez sprinted into the frame at full speed. Nacional made a mess of a three-against-one situation. Victorino and Espino were outrun, Conde came out for a non-existent reason and Rodríguez only had to slot the rebound into the empty net. 1-0 IASA at halftime.

Second half

Two substitutions at halftime were supposed to improve the visiting team's play. Seba Fernández and Carballo came on for González and Gamalho, who were both invisible during the first half. When the game continued to be slow through the first ten minutes of the second 45, Munúa pulled his last trump already. Leandro Barcia finally came on as well for Cabrera who had suffered a head injury earlier.

It took Barcia exactly 3 minutes to make his presence count. One of those great runs from Espino across the left wing, which were completely missing in the first half, led to a dangerous cross that Irazún could not deal with. Right-back Fucile went up too and had his shot blocked. The second try was a successful one then from Barcia who banged the ball home.

It was about time that Nacional entered this game too, but now they dominated all of a sudden. Further more or less big chances from Tabó on multiple occasions and López were the result. In addition, one needs to mention that Sud América lost their composure fully at no point.

Slowly but surely, time was running out on the visitors as well. In the closing minutes, Nacional were pouring on the pressure with a series of corners. All of them were dangerous, but none led to THE decisive goal. It ended 1-1.


Nacional played a game of two halves. The first one extremely weak, the second one a lot improved, but not good enough to deserve the victory at the end of the evening. Sud América did well enough to hold on to one point during the second 45 minutes.

Resting a lot of players for the Copa Libertadores yet again did not pay off, as Nacional miss the chance to go top of the league 5 games from the end of the Clausura.


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