Bautista Merlini may have been enraged by his 75th minute red card but San Lorenzo can have very few excuses after suffering a 2-0 defeat to Nacional in Montevideo and consequently crashing out of the Copa Sudamericana on away goals.
Taking a 3-1 lead to the Estadio Gran Parque Central should have been enough of a cushion for Claudio Biaggio’s side but a flat display was punished by Nacional.
The two-goal advantage was reduced after only ten minutes when former San Lorenzo centre forward Gonzalo Bergessio headed against the post and saw Matias Zunino chest in the rebound.
However, a strong, experienced San Lorenzo should have settled and been able to cope with the early set back.
Instead shortly after the break, Bergessio raced in behind a static defence and slotted in the second. With it Nacional were ahead in the tie for the first time and San Lorenzo needed an away goal of their own.
That never really looked likely. Biaggio turned to Bautista Merlini off the bench but the youngster’s evening lasted only three minutes before a clumsy, mistimed challenge resulted in a straight red card.
Merlini needed to be restrained and with that decision it virtually ended San Lorenzo’s hopes of a comeback.
It is Nacional that will now play either Fluminense or Deportivo Cuenca in the quarter finals and San Lorenzo must aim for a swift reaction domestically.