COLOMBIA: Nacional are champions


This article is courtesy of COLO FUTBOL




Santa Fe’s nightmare continued early on Thursday morning as Atletico Nacional won 2-0 and clinched the Colombian Championship for their twelfth time. Following a scoreless first leg in Medellin on Sunday night, the championship was up for grabs at Santa Fe’s Estadio Nemesio Camacho in Bogota.

Santa Fe vs. Nacional (Galería)

After being knocked out of the Copa Libertadores at the semi-stage by Paraguayan’s Olimpia, Santa Fe must have felt a win against Nacional was a possible task after holding them a 0-0 draw in the home leg. They failed to cope with El Verde as Nacional emerged as the champions of Colombia.

Although it was a high-octane affair, like the first leg, both teams started cautiously, well aware of either sides threat and we had to wait for the beginning goal, but it was the home side that looked the more likely to break the deadlock.

The home side set the tone of the game and National retreated in their own half. With the line of three central defenders, Francisco Najera, Alexis Henriquez and Oscar Murillo, they held the attacking duo of Wilder Medina and Jefferson Cuero at bay. In fairness, the strikers lacked the creativity needed to get the much needed goal to settle the 38,000 hungry fans down.

The first real chance of the game came from an Omar Perez free-kick on eight minutes. Floated into the back post, the ball was knocked back across goal by Medina and Yulian Anchico powered a header over the crossbar from just a yard out, a bad miss.

The visitors took the lead seven minutes before the break, after the recalled Jefferson Duque controlled the ball from a long punt forward and charged into the box. The striker surged past defender Carlos Valdés and Hugo Acosta before taking the ball wide to the right and rifling a shot between the legs of Santa Fe goalkeeper Camilo Vargas. The away fans went wild and the Nacional players mobbed Duque. The big striker will never score a more important and more celebrated goal, a great finish too.

Santa Fe vs.  National (Gallery)

Of course, straight from the restart, the hosts pressed for an equaliser. Cuero was sent sprawling on the edge of the box and, the free-kick was a decent chance to draw level before the half-time whistle. Up stepped Gerardo Bedoya and although his shot found its way past the wall, whistled wide past the post.

Wilson Gutiérrez brought on the dangerous Cristian Borja Martinez sacrificing defender Anchico as he chased the game with the triple-pronged attack of Borja, Cuero and Medina. Medina, who is leaving for top Ecuadorian team Barcelona this week, was ineffective and found himself booked early in the second half in frustration.

Santa Fe vs.  National (Gallery)

After Duque crashed a shot against the post, Nacional cemented the win and the championship on 83 minutes with a goal courtesy of substitute Luis Mosquera. An excellent counter-attack goal, starting from a Santa Fe corner cleared at the front post and the ball came out to another sub, John Fredy Pajoy. Pajoy launched a pass across the pitch into the feet of Macnelly Torres on the right-wing. Nacional had the Santa Fe defence outnumbered two against one, and Torres played the ball in Mosquera to finish with ease to secure the 12th Colombian championship.

It was an obviously disappointing end to Santa Fe’s year, with on reflection, Los Cardenales had been the best team in Colombian over the past season. They now look to rebuild without star striker Medina and they are rumours that head coach Gutiérrez may be packing his bags also.

Nacional’s players celebrated with the trophy in a strange atmosphere, in an empty stadium, where very few Nacional supporters had managed to smuggle themselves in after the local police has told them to stay away. Nevertheless, a great success for the team from Medellin, a surprise success for many pundits.



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