They have needed more than a spot of luck along the way but Vélez Sarsfield struck in stoppage time once again to seal a place in the Copa Sudamericana semi-finals on Tuesday evening. Juan Martín Lucero’s last gasp header clinched a 3-1 win over Universidad Católica overturning the first leg defeat and narrowly avoiding an impending penalty shootout.
While Vélez may have required fortune against Aucas, Peñarol and Deportivo Cali in previous rounds there was no denying that Mauricio Pellegrino’s side were the better team at the Estadio San Carlos de Apoquindo.
That being said the early breakthrough came thanks to a harsh VAR assisted handball decision that allowed Cristian Tarragona to score from the spot. Ahead on the night but still trailing on away goals, Vélez still needed more.
And their hopes took something of a blow when a similar penalty saw Luciano Aued equalise for Universidad Católica with a little over 20 minutes remaining.
One goal was needed to force the tie to a shootout and it came swiftly after the home side’s leveller in spectacular fashion. Youngster Luca Orellano, only back in the squad after his positive covid-19 test picked up the ball on the right and drove inside to deliver a devastating left foot rocket from distance into the top corner.
Penalties looked inevitable until Francisco Silva gave away a cheap free-kick deep into added on time, Ricardo Álvarez floated it into the Universidad Católica box and substitute Lucero rose to head past Matías Dituro.
With Lanús or Independiente awaiting in the semi-final, at least one Argentine side will be in the final in Córdoba on January 23rd and Vélez’s knack of grinding out results they can’t be counted out against anyone.