Jobu reviews the second game of Nacional’s quest for a fourth Copa Libertadores championship.
Nacional’s second game of the group stage of the Copa Libertadores tournament pitted them against Mexican staple Toluca. Unlike the first game, this time Nacional would have to travel to Mexico for the contest. In a somewhat sensible, but very frustrating decision, coach Gutavo Díaz decided not to take Alvaro Recoba or Sebastian Abreu on the trip. The reason was that, since the two don’t play that many minutes, it would be a lot of traveling for them. If you guys read my review of the first game of the group stage, you’ll know that these two, despite their age and limited minutes, were the only reason Nacional tied. It almost felt like the team was giving up before the game even started, but I was pleasantly surprised by the finish.
The rest of the team really came together in this game. One interesting backstory to this game was the return of former great Toluca scorers Vicente Sánchez and Iván Alonso. This time, the two were wearing the Nacional jersey though, and boy were the Bolsos (a nickname for Nacional that stems from the pocket they traditionally had on their chest) happy about that.
Once again, Nacional got off to a bad start, going down 1-0 on a header by Toluca’s Luis “El Matador” Tejada in the 22nd minute. The scoring stayed that way throughout a tight knit first half, until a flurry from both teams started just two minutes into the second half that saw Nacional score three goals and Toluca one in about 12 minutes of action. It started with Sánchez’s equalizer at the 47 minute mark. Just five minutes later, Toluca retook the lead with a strike from Edgar Benítez. The seesaw battle continued when, just three minutes later, Sánchez was left all alone in front of the net after a free kick by Juan Albin had deflected off the barrier, and he hammered it for his second equalizer of the game. Not one to be left out of the fun, Alonso waited until just four minutes later before he scored the eventual game winner, as Nacional hung on for the last half hour to win the game 3-2.
The win was a huge one for Nacional. They proved that the terrible play they showed against Barcelona the week before when Abreu and Recoba were out of the game was an exception, rather than the norm. They went into Mexico and beat Toluca with three goals from their former players. One thing I thought was very classy was that, out of respect for his former team, Sánchez did not celebrate either of his two goals, nor the game-winner by his fellow former Tolucan Alonso. It was a classy victory for the team, and left them in pretty good standing through the first two games.
Next up for Nacional will be a matchup with Argentina’s Boca Juniors. The game will be played on Thursday, March 7th at 7:30 PM (Eastern time) at Alberto J. Armando Stadium in Argentina.
Here are some of the game’s highlights:
Featured image courtesy of: (Acir Deportes)
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