If Independiente end up falling short in this year’s Copa Sudamericana, Ariel Holan will once again look back on a game in which his side dominated possession and chances but were unable to find the net. Oscar Cardozo’s controversial strike inside 30 seconds was the only goal of the game and leaves El Rojo with plenty to do in Avellaneda if they are to reach the final.
Independiente had no such problems in the previous round when they left Asunción with a 4-1 win over Nacional but their scoring touch eluded them once more and allowed Nacional to eke out a slender advantage.
The visitors were caught napping on Tuesday evening when Oscar Cardozo latched onto a header over the Independiente defence after 27 seconds to fire past Martín Campaña but it wasn’t without some controversy as the Paraguayan international striker appeared to control the ball with an arm.
After a slow start, Independiente gradually grew into the game and began to dominate possession with Libertad seemingly happy to allow the visitors the ball in the hope that they could counter.
The lively Juan Sánchez Miño and Ezequiel Barco caused the home side problems but wasteful finishing and good goalkeeping by Rodrigo Muñoz denied El Rojo time and time again.
Even after goalscorer Cardozo was shown a red card for an elbow on Alan Franco and the pressure increased, Independiente could not muster an equaliser.
The two sides meet again in Avellaneda next Tuesday where Independiente must score and will likely not be able to afford conceding if the hopes of lifting the Copa Sudamericana are to remain alive.