Unbeaten in this season’s Superliga and already in uncharted territory in the Copa Sudamericana quarter finals, Defensa y Justicia continue to make history but have left themselves a huge amount of work if they are to reach the next stage after defeat to Junior.
The Colombians, who edged past Colón in the previous round, will have been wary of another Argentinean club and one in far superior form to their prior victims. However, after securing a 2-0 win on Thursday in Barranquilla, Junior will be firm favourites ahead of the second leg in Lanús next week.
The scoreline particularly harsh on a Defensa y Justicia side who caused problems throughout and could easily have left with an away goal or even a draw. A one-goal defeat even, wouldn’t have been the end of the world but Rafael Pérez’s stoppage time penalty has put Junior in the driving seat.
For 75 minutes the two sides had shared chances with Nicolás Fernández drawing a fine save from Sebastián Viera and Daniel Moreno hitting the post during an even first half.
The game did begin to open up and while Defensa y Justicia still created chances, the home side grew stronger in the closing stages before Luis Díaz broke the deadlock. A deep cross from the right found Díaz, chesting the ball inside Nahuel Molina the forward volleyed past Ezequiel Unsain and Junior were ahead.
The game still went back and forth and then in stoppage time full-back Marlon Piedrahita burst into the box drawing a challenge from Francisco Cerro. A tumble prompted the referee to point to the spot and Rafael Pérez smashed in the resulting penalty.
The two sides meet next Thursday in Lanús’ stadium to allow for a larger crowd but those in attendance will need to witness a truly special performance from Sebastián Beccacece’s side if they are to reach the semi finals.