Argentine side Huracan hosted the Copa Libertadores top seeded team in the group stages, Atletico Nacional. This was the third encounter between the two teams during this Copa Libertadores campaign as both teams were in the same group during the group stages.
The two teams played a close game and settled for a 0-0 draw. It's been seven consecutive games now for Atletico Nacional where they have not concede a goal. It was the first time a team went without conceding a goal in the group stage and Franco Armani extended his shutout record with the scoreless draw.
The match was an even affair between two clubs who were trying to win after coming off disappointing defeats from their domestic league. Huracan lost to San Lorenzo in the Clasico del Barrio which is the rivalry between Huracan and San Lorenzo while Nacional lost to Cortulua wasting their oppurtunity to gain first place in Colombia's Liga Aguila.
It was just seven days before this scoreless draw in Buenos Aires that the same two teams, Nacional and Huracan, met each other to conclude the last games of the group stages. Unlike the last game in Medellin, Huracan went out to seek the win and were willing to take risks. During the last game Nacional was in control of the majority of the possesssion and Huracan were playing for a draw sitting back making it tough for Nacional to break through.
This game in Buenos Aires had another feel to it, as Huracan were willing to prove themselves that could compete with the best. Last years Copa Sudamericana's runner-up pressured Nacional early on forcing some defensive mistakes.
Huracan star striker, Wanchope Abila posed as threat early on as his pace and off the ball movement kept young defender Felipe Aguilar alert. Nacional head coach, Reinaldo Rueda made some changes to the lineup as usual starters Victor Ibarbo and Marlos Moreno were on the bench to start and Aguilar filled in the center back role for the injured Alexis Henriquez. Ibarbo and Moreno saw action in the game against Cortulua over the weekend as they didn't seem to be in form as the other players who were unavailable for the weekend game as they had already arrived in Argentina.
Balanced first leg
The match at the Estadio Tomas Adolfo Duco didn't see many scoring opportunities for both clubs but the two goalkeepers were forced to make a couple of crucial saves. The first opportunity for Huracan came in the fourth minute when Daniel Montenegro shot through the bodies of Nacional players forcing Armani to make a save through traffic.
It wasn't the best of games for creative playmaker Sebastian Perez and also for defensive mid Alexander Mejia who didn't provide an elegant flow to Nacional's play. Nacional had trouble generating their fast offensive attack as they came across a good Huracan defense led by the experienced, Federico Mancinelli.
Marcos Diaz was barely tested on the night as Nacional lacked offense throughout the game, Luis Carlos Ruiz still hasn't shown great form in the last two games played. In the 61st minute, Orlando Berrio broke quickly past Huracan's back line but Marcos Diaz was quick to come off his line cutting down the angle and making a breakaway save against Berrio.
Nacional's other scoring opportunity came in the 89th minute when Sebastian Perez shot the ball just over the bar which would provide Nacional with a vital away goal. The clearest chance of the match came for Huracan in stoppage time off a set piece where Mancinelli hit a hard shot but Armani's reactions were quick to stop Mancinelli's shot and then he was quick also to stop Ezequiel Miralles from getting to the rebound from the ensuing shot.
What does the result mean?
Huracan can gain positive thoughts from the first leg knowing they didn't concede the crucial away goal which would impact them greatly knowing they would have to travel to the Atanasio Giradot. For Atletico Nacional a goal would've have seen them get closer to the quarterfinals but knowing they still have the second leg to be played in front of their fans gives them hope and a sense of confidence.
The second leg will be played at the Atanasio Giradot in Medellin where Nacional have looked strong. It will be interesting if Huracan decides to play a conservative game and look to force the game to kicks from the spot or to play the same way they did in the first leg.