The brilliance of Thiago Almada and some favourable VAR decisions put Vélez Sarsfield firmly in control of their Copa Sudamericana last 16 clash with Deportivo Cali.
The Colombians had what looked like a perfectly legal goal disallowed during the first half when Jhon Vásquez headed past Lucas Hoyos only to be penalised for an alleged foul on Tomás Guidara.
A marginal offside decision had denied Lucas Janson a goal for the home side and with the first leg still in the balance Almada appeared. Goalkeeper David González spilled a cross allowing the 19-year-old to tap Vélez in front and then minutes later a wonderful first time finish doubled the lead.
The action didn’t stop there though with Deportivo Cali awarded a penalty in stoppage time. Carlos Lizarazo stepped up looking to give the visitors a precious away goal but Hoyos dived to his left to make a superb stop. Replays showed a step off his line a fraction before Lizarazo’s shot yet once more the VAR gods shone on Vélez.
With a two-goal lead Mauricio Pellegrino will surely be confident that his side can reach the quarter-finals.
Unión were less fortunate against Bahia and only an excellent display by goalkeeper Douglas Friedrich denied Juan Manuel Azconzábal’s side at the very least an away goal in Brazil.
A number of good saves and some poor finishing kept the scoreline goalless until a little more than ten minutes remained on the clock. Substitute Rossi found space in the box and tumbled under a challenge from Sebastián Moyano allowing Gilberto to slot in the game’s only goal from the penalty spot.
The absence of an away goal makes life difficult but Unión will feel they have enough in Santa Fe to overturn the first leg defeat.