Millonarios faced General Diaz for the first game in the matchup for the round of 32 of Copa Sudamericana. The venue was the mythical stadium of Defensores del Chaco in Asunción, Paraguay.
Since the beginning, it was an awkward game. Millonarios wasn’t authorized to use their home or away kit and therefore was forced by CONMEBOL to wear the third uniform, a bright orange jersey far from the blue and white the fans are accustomed to watching.
Now talking about the development of the game, we must say that the first half was drowsy and lack of emotions. Millonarios felt the absence of John Duque as neither Matias de los Santos nor Henry Rojas succeeded in recovering the ball from the Paraguayans. However, the home team didn’t create any real opportunities for scoring as Cadavid and Figueroa easily defended all the attacks and the half distance shots attempted by General Diaz went directly to Fariñez’s hands.
Millonarios tried to control the game and strike in swift counterattacks commanded by the speed of Del Valle, Hauche, and Salazar. In one occasion, del Valle managed to take away the ball from the defense of General Diaz and ended one on one with the keeper, but the ball was taken away by the defender in a maneuver that had to be sanctioned as penalty kick and was omitted by the referee.
In the last play of the first half, Salazar got past through three defenders of the home team and was knocked down a few inches outside the box. Instead of calling the foul, the ball resulted in Hauche’s foot, and the new acquisition of Millonarios shot smoothly near the left post, but the ball was sent to the corner kick by the opposing keeper.
Second half was different as Millonarios started the last 45 minutes seeking for the victory. Commanded by Silva, Hauche, and Salazar, Millonarios took control of the ball and started complicating General Diaz by attacking through the flanks.
In the 53rd minute of the game, Henry Rojas stole the ball from the defensive midfielder and filtered the ball to Salazar who eluded the side back but was kicked inside the box for a penalty kick. Ayron Del Valle delivered a powerful kick near to the top angle and scored the goal for Millonarios.
Just 5 minutes later after the first goal, Hauche won the ball in the opponent’s territory and filtered a beautiful pass to David Silva, who found himself alone with the goalkeeper, but his shot went wide missing a limited chance of doubling the lead.
Millonarios was in control the game for the next 20 minutes but then after Coach Russo substitutions lost all of its dominance. Carrillo didn’t help in his task of recovering the ball, Ovelar didn’t represent any danger for General Diaz plus taking away Hauche took away mobility and speed for Millonarios’ counterattack, and Marrugo entered for Silva, but without Hauche his options for a pass were reduced severely.
The only goal option created by General Diaz was a long shot brilliantly saved by Fariñez with his feet and a subsequent cross that the Venezuelan goalkeeper successfully deviated to the throw-in. However with only nine minutes left in the game after a series of mistakes the home team scored for the tie.
Carrillo lost the ball in the midfield, Palacios was in attack position leaving the right side alone, Cadavid had to cover Palacios’ back when the Paraguayan striker made the cross, Figueroa was returning to Cadavid’s spot, and Banguero missed the ball when trying to make the clearance. All this allowed Enzo Giménez to receive the ball freely and defeat Fariñez for the tie.
In the last minutes, Marrugo tried to manage the game looking for a second goal, but no reaction from Millonarios was successful.
After 94 minutes the final result was a 1-1 tie. On paper, this is a good result for Millonarios who scored an away goal and has the chance to resolve the series at home. Nevertheless, in observing the rival, the development of the game and the opportunities missed by the strikers, the sensation was that Millonarios could have easily won the game.
Once again Millonarios loses points in the final minutes of a game for not being capable of managing the advantages. We saw this all over last semester in the Colombian league, the same situation occurred in the Copa Libertadores against Independiente, and it’s happening all over again this semester with Boyaca Chicó and General Diaz. Miguel Angel Russo must work to recover the strength of the defense that led us to the title last December.
Fariñez (6), Palacios (5), Figueroa (6), Cadavid (6), Banguero (5), De Los Santos (5), Rojas (6), Salazar (7), Silva (7), Hauche (8), Del Valle (7)
Man of the match: Hauche (8)
Picture via CONMEBOL