The days leading up to the big return leg mach at El Metropolitano had Junior confident that they could revert a 3-0 deficit. The fans showed support during the practices while the queen of the Barranquilla carnival dropped by to practice with the boys and offer some vital motivation.
In Bogota, the local newspapers were already hyping up the final between Santa Fe and Millonarios. Some publications even went as far as even posting on their website a logo with the two teams’ crests already analyzing what was going to be.
One problem. Both sides still needed to play the return leg.
That would be more than enough as they would defeat Millonarios at home 3-0 and then eliminate the reigning Colombian Cup champs.
It was a combination of lots of things tha saw the result turn out the way it did. A motivated Junior side came out against a Millonarios that looked overly comfortable and passive to say the least. Luis Mosquera’s shot in the sixth minute could have buried the Barranquilla side early on but the shot was deviated by the post.
After that Junior began opening the suspect Millos defense and it would be the play from the outside-in that would start to bother the men in blue. A foul on Vladmir Hernandez in the 14th minute led to a freekick that was set up perfectly by Giovanni Hernández for his right foot. Instead Juan Valencia came in from virtually nowhere and place a left-footed shot over the wall and past a surprised Nelson Ramos to take the 1-0 lead.
Momentum shifted but Millonarios regressed and once again became that wasteful side that was incapable of finishing off opponents. They began to monopolize possession but failed to really make any important excursions in the Junior backline. Instead it was Junior that would strike again just ten minutes later as Vladimir Hernández once again would strike, this time the cross in the area by Carlos Bacca found the smallest man on the pitch to make it 2-0.
What was most ironic about this goal was that Vlad beat the tallest man on the pitch, Venezuelan international Alejandro Cichero, to the ball. His diving effort now made things even more interesting and Millos’ supposed insurmountable lead.
Coach Paez, who was criticized many times for being too passive with his formations, was afflicted by the same problem yet again. Their conformity led to their demise and that would come in the second half when Carlos Bacca would be the final pass in a lethal counterattack that would find Giovanni Hernández. The former Colo Colo man would cooly put on the breaks in the area allowing Lewis Ochoa to slide right by and Gio would then slot the ball between Ramos’ legs.
For GIo it was his first goal of the season; the 99th of his career.
After that Millonarios really just held on to the ball to pretty much kill the clock. They had no options on the attack as both Edinson Toloza and Erick Moreno were really struggling to find spaces and clear shots on former Villarreal goalkeeper Sebastián Viera.
Viera would end up being the hero as he saved the first penalty shot in the shootouts against Mayer Candelo.
For Millos, it was another heartbreaking end to a season that was so full of promise. Their elimination also extends their title drought to 24 years.
Junior in the meantime will wait for the winner of Santa Fe- Once Caldas who will play Thursday morning at 11pm local time. This delay was brought about by terrible storm that flooded the pitch and only permitted six minutes of the match to be played.
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- A brilliant assist you won’t have seen: Edison Toloza, set up by Erick Moreno (Millonarios) v Deportivo Cali (101greatgoals.com)
- Barranquilla, a city on the move (repeatingislands.com)