A doubleheader between Colombian club teams at FIU Stadium on Saturday ended with goals in the final minutes of each match.
The stories, however, unfolded in quite different fashions.
In the opener, Medellín and Nacional battled for 89 scoreless minutes before Medellín’s Hernán Hechalar collected a deflected rebound in the box and delivered the game winner.
Though Medellín possessed the ball for much of the match, no opportunity was handled well enough to break through on the score sheet. Assistant coach Luis Fernando Herrera said he thought his team missed six or seven chances in the first half to score.
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Those chances got better after the break, as Medellín began to wear down Nacional’s back line. A chip over the defense created a chance for Medellín in the 64th minute, and Drongo buried a shot into the net off a 70th-minute through ball, only to have the goal disallowed by a late offsides flag.
Nacional struggled to convert its few runs at the net and never found the same rhythm. Coach Reynaldo Rueda attributed the problems to a lack of precision with its final touches and to the artificial turf, a surface on which Colombian teams rarely play.
Nacional’s best chance to score likely came on an 83rd-minute counterattack, when Marlos Moreno spun free from a defender and dribbled the ball from midfield to the edge of the box, where he was tackled by two Medellín defenders. The referee declared the play clean.
Cali’s 2-0 win over America was decided much earlier in the contest.
Cali earned a penalty in the 10th minute, and Mateo Casierra buried it in the bottom-left corner as the America keeper dove right. Down to 10 men, America’s attempt to tie the score would grow more difficult in the 18th minute when Aníbal Hernández was hit with a red card. America would finish the rest of the match with just nine players.
Unable to possess the ball down two men, America was forced to take a series of long-range shots as the match progressed. Amílcar Henríquez fired one from outside the box that almost bent down and in, and Cali keeper Luis Hurtado had to parry away several other close calls.
For the better part of the second half, Cali assaulted the America back line with chance after chance. Yet while America failed to even the score, its defense made several key plays in its own third to prevent Cali from widening the gap. And on the one occasion when the America defense broke down and Cali’s Rafael Borre chipped the ball over the keeper, an official was there to disallow the goal.
But Cali’s unending assault eventually came to fruition when Borre finished off a 2-on-1 breakaway chance in the 89th minute to push the score to 2-0.
Unlike the previous match, however, the drama had vanished long before.