Atlético Nacional is now in the semifinals of the prestigious Copa Libertadores for the first time since 1995. The thrilling second leg had much more talking points than the first leg as the match was filled with controversy. It was the second time a match got out of hand and police had to flood the pitch at the Atanasio Girardot for the knockout games. Atlético Nacional and Rosario Central came onto the pitch with the Atanasio Girardot covered in a sea of green and white but, it was Rosario who went on the board first.
Rosario Central's Away Push
The party was just starting in Medellin but a hand ball in the box by Jonathan Copete delayed the celebrations as Rosario Central was awarded with an early penalty. The penalty was controversial as Victor Salazar was on top of Copete not letting him stand up but, Copete's hand on the field never attempted to evade the ball.
Star man Marcos Ruben put Rosario Central up 1-0 with a 2-0 lead in the aggregate and the much important away goal. After the goal Atletico Nacional quickly reacted trying to beat Seabstian Sosa's goal. Nacional looked desperate at times and Rosario looked calm and composed defensively as center-backs Esteban Burgos and Alejandro Donatti were in for a busy night.
Verdolaga Scoring Run
Former Colombian national team player Macnelly Torres, was included in Nacional's starting lineup after scoring two goals in Colombia's Liga Aguila over the weekend - Patriotas. Macnelly Torres scored the first of Nacional's goals, right before half time off a wonderful cross from Orlando Berrio who recently came on for the subbed off Sebastian Perez.
The key player for Atletico Nacional was the Venezuelan, Alejandro Guerra who playing the creative midfielder role. "El Lobito" has been sensational for "El Verde De La Montaña" throughout the tournament. The Venezuelan international quickly gave Nacional even more confidence scoring just five minutes into the second half.
Nacional began to become more desperate as many chances would not find the back of the net. Nacional's head coach Reinaldo Rueda inclusion of Andres Ibargüen gave Nacional extra energy as he was creating chances through both wings of the field.
The home team began to get frustrated after multiple Rosario Central's players took time off the clock. A collision between Berrio and Sosa saw Sosa fall to the ground and take a couple minutes off play, frustrating Berrio. Due to the many stoppages during play the ref added six minutes of stoppage time which saw much drama. The first of four red cards were shown in the 90th minute where Esteban Burgos brought down Marlos Moreno outside the box giving him his second yellow.
The brace for Nacional came in the 95th minute where Berrio scored and his celebration brought onset altercations. Berrio was handed a red card for his celebration in front of Rosario's goalkeeper Sosa and Damian Musto was also handed one for his reaction towards attacking Berrio. Security and police officers quickly took onto the pitch trying to control the game. The fourth red card of the match was shown to Giovani Lo Celso a couple minutes after the goal, for hitting Alexander Mejia.
After the ref blew the final whistle, Rosario Central's manager Eduardo Coudet quickly went onto the field to find Alexander Mejia and then insult him. It was a game full of emotions and not the first time that there have been problems after the whistle at the Atanasio Girardot in this edition of the Copa Libertadores.
Atlético Nacional now look forward as they are matched up against Sao Paulo in the semi-finals set to take part in July after the Copa America. It's important to take into account Franco Armani's triple save in the first leg which kept Nacional defeat only to a 1-0 result and his save this second leg against Franco Cervi in the final stages of the match which kept Nacional alive.