Venezuelan referee José Argote was the central figure in Tuesday night’s Copa Libertadores last 16 meeting between Atlético Nacional and Huracán after a couple of major decisions in favour of the home side handed a place in the quarter finals to the Colombians. Huracán rightly feel aggrieved after playing almost the entire second half with ten men but still scoring twice against a defence that had not conceded in the tournament until last night.
After a goalless draw a week ago in Parque Patricios, the second leg in Medellín began at some pace and after the home side had already rattled the woodwork and Ramón Ábila had had a goal ruled out for offside, the deadlock was broken after 23 minutes. Alejandro Guerra was adjudged to have been tripped by Jose Argote despite minimal contact but it allowed Víctor Ibarbo to convert from the penalty spot and put El Verde in front.
Given the defensive record of the home side, the goal could have been a fatal blow to Huracán but they responded immediately. Cristian Espinoza played a one-two on the edge of the Atlético penalty area and drilled the ball low past Franco Armani, for the first goal the goalkeeper has needed to pick out of the net.
With the scores tied at the break, it would be the visitors progressing courtesy of the away goals if neither side could find another in the second half. However, minutes after the interval, Argote once more swung the game in the home side’s favour. Federico Mancinelli brushed past Marlos Moreno and when the Colombian international collapsed to the turf, Argote was quick to show a red card.
Shortly after the dismissal, Guerra slotted Nacional in front and when he curled in his second of the evening, it looked all over for Huracán.
The home side were unable to quite kill off the ten men and when Ramón Ábila produced one of the goal’s of the tournament with a spectacular bicycle kick there was the slightest glimmer of hope.
It was not to be and in stoppage time, Jonathan Copete clipped in a fourth on the break to end El Globo’s Libertadores dream.
Having looked so formidable in the group stages, Atlético Nacional were certainly made to look very fragile and had it not been for the decisions of Jose Argote, El Globo may well have been waiting for the winners of Grêmio against Rosario Central in the quarter finals.