Atletico Nacional picked up a late win against Bogota rivals Millonarios, despite resting all of their star players. Elsewhere, Itagui moved into second with an excellent 3-1 win over Real Cartagena and Once Caldas dropped to the foot of the table after being beaten by Boyaca Chico.
Atletico Junior recorded an impressive 1-0 home win against Deportivo Cali on Thursday; kicking off the celebrations ahead of Barranquilla’s annual 4 day carnival. The first half was fast-paced and open, with both sides creating good opportunities. Deportivo Cali had the better of the chances at the start of the second half, but as the final whistle approached the ‘sharks’ came back into the game.
Chilean striker Luis Carlos Ruiz almost won the tie in the 90th minute with a spectacular attempt. Ruiz chested a lose ball high into the air at the edge of the box and then leapt to strike a perfectly timed overhead kick which flew inches wide of the post. Junior continued to pile on the pressure, and they finally got their reward on the 93rd minute. Hector Quiñones ran onto a through ball, shrugged off his marker and slid the ball into the bottom corner to win the game for the home side.
On Friday, Atletico Nacional beat their great Bogota rivals Millonarios to take top spot, ahead of their trip to Montevideo in the Copa Libertadores. The 35,000 Millonarios fans in attendance were devastated to have been beaten by a severely weakened Nacional side, as star players Dorlan Pabon, Alexis Henriquez, Macnelly Torres, Gaston Pezzuti and Jhon Edwar Valoy were all rested. Oscar Murillo scored a diving header in the first minute to give the away side an early lead. The Nacional defender scored his second header of the game to double “los verdes'” lead on 24 minutes, with the packed home crowd left shell-shocked.
Just four minutes later the home side had pulled a goal back; Humberto Osorio pounced on a lose ball following a good save by Franco Armani in the Nacional goal. Millonarios drew level just before the break. Orlando Berrio’s header was blocked on the line, but Elkin Blanco reacted quickest to power the ball home from close range. The game remained level until the 75th minute, when 19 year old Juan Fernando Quintero curled a superb free-kick into the top corner from 35 yards. The young midfielder will be delighted to have scored a stunning winner against Nacional’s fierce rival’s on his first start for the club, following a December transfer from neighbors Envigado.
Elsewhere, Tolima and La Equidad shared the points in a scrappy 1-1 draw. Robin Ramírez gave the home side a 4th minute lead, passing into an empty net following a good save by Julian Mesa in the Equidad goal. The Bogotá club equalized in the 28th minute as Falvio Córdoba powered a header beyond the sprawling Anthony Silva at the near post. Tolima dominated the game and La Equidad will be relieved to return to the capital with a point.
Once Caldas were beaten away against Boyaca Chico to drop to the bottom of the table. Chico have training ground preparation and heroic defending to thank for the three excellent points they secured against a strong, yet under-performing, Once Caldes side. The home team took the lead with superbly worked free-kick from the edge of the box. Edwin Movil faked to shoot and played it to Diego Chica who shifted in front of the Once Caldas wall and cushioned the ball across to Mario Gomez who powerfully struck the ball into the bottom corner. The goal was a thing of beauty; perfectly choreographed and timed to perfection.
In the evening kick-off Independiente Medellin drew at home against Santa Fe. William Arboleda gave the Medellin side the lead from the spot on the 28th minute, before Jonathan Copete restored parity four minutes later.
Itagui picked up another impressive home win, as they beat Real Cartagena 3-1 at the Estadio de Ditares. The Antioquia club offered free tickets for Sunday’s fixture and those who attended were treated to some superb attacking football from the home side, as their fluid passing and excellent movement cut through Cartagena’s defense.
Deportivo Pasto beat Envigado 3-1 at home on Sunday. Víctor Manuel Zapata gave Pasto the lead from the spot, before Yulian Mejia drew Envigado level on 31 minutes. Omar Rodriguez powered Pasto ahead from the edge of the box, before Edwards Jimenez clipped a third over Víctor Soto on the 83rd minute.
Newly promoted Patriotas continued their good start to the season with a 1-1 draw against Quindio. Juan Caicedo gave Quindio the lead on 28 minutes and Patriotas midfielder Weimer Olivares equalized for the Boyacá club level deep into the second half.
Huila topped the table at the start of play, but were beaten 1-0 by a hard working Cucuta side on Sunday. The only goal of the game was scored after 23 minutes, when Carlos Herrera leapt highest to head a lose ball into the net, as it deflected up off the crossbar. The home side were delighted to pick up their first win of the season against high flying Huila.
The article was kindly contributed by southamericanfootball.co.uk