A precarious one-goal advantage from the first leg was always going to make life uncomfortable for Independiente when taking on Universidad Católica in Quito and so it proved with El Rojo suffering defeat but claiming victory on away goals.
The altitude of Quito and the fact that the Camaratas had put six past Melgar at the Estadio Olímpico Atahualpa in the previous round meant Independiente were well aware of how dangerous this second was. And it could barely have started any worse.
Cecilio Domínguez, an injury concern prior to kick off, lasted barely five minutes before limping off replaced by Fabricio Bustos and before the 20-minute mark, the hosts were level in the tie. Alan Franco adjudged to have brought down Walter Chalá and Bruno Vides beating Martín Campaña from the spot to make it 1-1.
Soon after the hosts’ momentum was slowed as Uruguayan defender Guillermo De los Santos was shown a second yellow card midway through the first half. It was the opening Independiente needed.
Universidad Católica remained a threat even with ten but shortly after half-time, El Rojo snatched the away goal that was so important. Bustos crossed from the right, Martín Benítez headed past Hernán Galindez and although a linesman’s flag initially ruled out the effort, a VAR review saw the goal stand.
Pablo Hernández, goalscorer in the first leg, latched on to a Cristian Chávez pass with less than 20 minutes remaining to put Independiente ahead on the night and with the hosts needing three, Sebastián Beccacece’s side looked home and dry.
However, Chalá rifled in a fine equaliser and in stoppage time a fierce Luis Amarilla volley put Universidad Católica in front on the night and in need of one more to snatch the win.
Independiente held on and that clean sheet in Avellaneda proved decisive but Beccacece knows improvements are needed for their return to Ecuador in the next round against Independiente del Valle. Two new signings will be added to the squad and Sebastián Palacios, Andrés Roa or potentially Lucas Romero will certainly help yet El Rojo also need more from those players already available.
🔴🔴🔴 ¡Todo Rojo! @Independiente sufrió, pero está entre los ocho mejores de la #Sudamericana pic.twitter.com/iiOz5DmdMI
— CONMEBOL Sudamericana (@Sudamericana) August 2, 2019