Silvio Romero hasn’t been the source of goals Independiente expected when they brought the striker back to Argentina from Club América yet the 31-year-old was unquestionably the hero on Tuesday evening coming off the bench to grab a match winning brace against Independiente del Valle.
The Copa Sudamericana quarter-final tie remains in the balance with the Ecuadorians grabbing an away goal ahead of next week’s meeting in Quito but turning things around in the final fifteen minutes has at least given El Rojo something to defend in the altitude.
It was the least that Independiente deserved. Sebastián Beccacece had been critical of the scheduling in the build up given his side had only just qualified in Ecuador last Thursday but his side began at tremendous pace and had the visitors on the ropes from the off.
Sebastián Palacios, a new addition to the squad, threatened off the left and Francisco Pizzini flashed a shot from the opposite flank inches wide of the post.
And just when El Rojo thought they had the breakthrough, their old enemy VAR struck again. Cristian Chávez had fired through a crowded penalty box to open the scoring and only after referee Diego Haro reviewed the replay did he decide that Pablo Hernández was impeding goalkeeper Jorge Pinos from an offside decision.
It was harsh and certainly didn’t help Independiente’s continued sense of injustice towards CONMEBOL and it ultimately proved to be an important moment.
Without reward for their dominance, Independiente lost their way after half time and it opened the door for Independiente del Valle. The visitors had already gone close at a corner when an inexplicable error gifted them what they had come for – the away goal.
Martín Benítez’s crossfield pass was ill-judged and even more poorly executed and as it dropped invitedly to Jhon Sánchez on the edge of the box, the 20-year-old hammered the ball past Martín Campaña.
The sense of urgency became all the more apparent and the ordinarily highly-strung Beccacece became even more frantic.
His side piled forward and forced a breakthrough, Romero going down under the challenge of Luis Leon to tuck away an equaliser from the penalty spot.
A draw likely not enough El Rojo searched for more and in stoppage time snatched a winner. Juan Sánchez Miño’s corner was flicked on by Benítez and Romero poked the ball from close range past Pinos.
Were it not for Benítez’s error Independiente would have taken a clean sheet to Quito as they did in the previous round and felt far more comfortable. Away goals were just enough for El Rojo against Universidad Católica and Beccacece knows his side face a battle to reach the semi-final.
— CONMEBOL Sudamericana (@Sudamericana) August 7, 2019