Sunday, May 15, 2016

Peñarol steal a lucky point from Nacional

On Sunday afternoon local time, it was finally time for the Clausura Clásico between Peñarol and Nacional. The venue: Estadio Centenario in Montevideo, which was nicely filled despite the persistent rain in Uruguay's capital. 

Exciting clash between two bitter rivals in Montevideo. (Photo:


Nacional were forced into two changes from the Copa Libertadores outing against Boca Juniors. As expected, striker Nico López and Kevin Ramírez could not play and were replaced by Christian Tabó and Léo Gamalho. 
Peñarol made four changes from their 3-0 win over Villa Teresa last weekend. Diego Forlán, Miguel Murillo, Nahitan Nández and Luis Aguiar replaced Diego Rossi, Hernán Novick, Christian Palacios and Nicolás Albarracín. 

First half

No tiredness to be seen early on from Nacional after playing Copa Libertadores football in midweek. They were on the front foot right away and created their first opportunity before a minute was played. Gamalho's header went right into the arms of Gastón Guruceaga. After about 10 minutes, Tabó tried his luck with a lob that sank dangerously and was tipped over the bar by Peñarol's goalkeeper eventually.

It took the home team a while to get into the game, as their first chance came shortly after the quarter hour mark. Nández arrived a little too late at the far post to convert Forlán's decent deep cross. Nacional added two chances through Fucile from distance and Gamalho just missing a header, while Peñarol had the biggest opportunity of the half. After Forlán made Fucile look a little silly at the back, Murillo could not reach the cross of his striking partner at the far post.

After a great start from Nacional who showed no tiredness in the first half, Peñarol got into the game a little better after quarter of an hour and produced some first chances. Especially Diego Forlán proved instrumental going forward yet again and had his foot in every chance. The rest of the first 45 minutes was even between the two foes and rightfully ended tied at zero.

Second half

Goal from Diego Polenta. (Photo:
If you enjoy spectacle, now was your time to tune into this game. Only three minutes into the second half, Mathías Aguirregaray thought it was a good idea to lift his leg high up against Tabó. He hit the winger and Nacional was awarded a correct penalty. As López missed today's game, it was the captain himself who stepped up for the penalty. Diego Polenta left no doubts and fired it into the bottom left corner for a 1-0 lead for Nacional.

Yet again, it took the home team about 15 minutes to find their game - at least for a short while, as we found out later. Forlán's shot sailed over the bar and coach Jorge Da Silva brought on Hernán Novick for the toothless Murillo. Hernán thanked him right away by kicking a lovely corner into the penalty area, finding the head of Aguirregaray. The defender then found the back of the net and it was all tied up again (62').

The situation lasted for only three minutes, before Nacional got their second penalty of the evening. Aguiar caught Barcia's foot on the edge of the penalty area (yes, inside) and yet again the referee pointed to the spot. Big game players are made for this and Polenta showed again why he is just one of those by converting his second penalty, cooly into the same corner. 2-1 Nacional!

Following their second goal, it was all Nacional going forward. Peñarol hit a wall whenever they attempted to attack their opponents. Big chances from Romero and Sebastián Fernández multiple times were the consequence. The striker will regret his finish in the 77th minute the most of all. A 3 on 1 counter led to Seba standing all alone in front of Guruceaga, but instead of firing it into the net, he put it wide.

Peñarol were even further weakened shortly after when Fernández had broken through on a counter attack yet again. Guillermo Rodríguez brought him down as the last man and saw the red card. Nothing spoke for yellow & black to come back and somehow they still did it. In the last minutes of a four minute long injury time, they created their first chances since Nacional's second goal. Esteban Conde had the better end of Aguiar's freekick, but when the midfielder crossed for Marcel Novick, the goalkeeper was powerless himself. Novick's header flew against the inside of the post and into the net for a much celebrated equalizer by one half of the stadium.


Creator of Peñarol's lucky point: Marcel Novick. (Photo:
An extremely lucky point for Peñarol considering their disadvantage with 10 men and their inability to create any chances throughout the last 30 minutes. Still, they believed in themselves at the end and came away with yet another lucky Clásico draw as they did the last time out in the Apertura.

Impressive today: Double goalscorer Diego Polenta led his team throughout the 90 minutes and fully convinced. On the other side, it was the Novick's that proved decisive in Peñarol's comeback.

With three games left in the season, Peñarol stay on top for now, awaiting Plaza Colonia's match against Sud América. With a win, the outsiders can leapfrog both of the big teams. However, Nacional will have to hope for both of them to drop points eventually to have a chance of winning the Clausura title.


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