Rosario Central became the first side to beat Atlético Nacional in this year’s Copa Libertadores and will take a significant advantage to Colombia ahead of next week’s return leg. Walter Montoya’s unstoppable dipping volley proved to be the difference but the lack of goals didn’t take anything away from an enthralling encounter between perhaps the two best sides in the tournament.
Central were dealt an early blow when Javier Pinola was stretchered off in agony in the opening minutes with what has now been confirmed as a broken fibula. However, the supporters crammed into the Gigante de Arroyito were quickly given a lift by Walter Montoya in the sixth minute. The ball bobbled in front of the midfielder some 40 yards from goal and the 22-year-old struck a sensational volley that whistled over the head of Franco Armani and into the net.
After a few rather dull quarter finals, Montoya had sparked this highly anticipated tie to life.
Atlético Nacional threw everything in their arsenal at Central but between Pablo Alvarez hacking the ball off the line and Sebastián Sosa swatting away anything that came his way, El Canalla held firm.
Despite relinquishing possession, Central may feel they should have extended their lead and had it not been for the remarkable reflexes of Armani they would have. On the hour mark, the visiting keeper produced a spectacular triple save to deny Central and illustrate just why the Colombians have been so difficult to score against this year.
Germán Herrera rattled the crossbar late on but neither side could find the game’s second goal. Without an away goal, Atlético Nacional are in a delicate position but Eduardo Coudet will know his side still have an enormous task ahead of them next Thursday in Medellín.