Tuesday 17 February 2015
2015 Copa Libertadores Group 5
Montevideo Wanderers 3-2 Zamora FC
Estadio Gran Parque Central, Montevideo
Highlights of Montevideo Wanderers 3-2 Zamora FC, 2015 Copa Libertadores, 17 February 2015 (Video courtesy of YouTube user: xpertowinner)
Eight-Man Zamora Implode Against Nine-Man Wanderers
Five red cards, five goals that included a glorious 30-yard strike, a bowling-themed celebration Fred Flintstone would have been proud of, a lollipop-sucking manager, frequent petulant fouls, violent conduct – this game certainly catered to popular stereotypes of South American football.
In a match that could be praised as entertaining as much as it could be dismissed as farcical, Zamora contrived to snatch defeat from the jaws of what was threatening to look like an impressive victory – an all-too-common occurrence at all levels of Venezuelan football.
Hosted at the home of Wanderers’ more illustrious cross-city rivals Nacional, the reigning Venezuelan champions made the more positive start, with a shot going close from 19-year-old winger Jhon Murillo, a definite talent who may find himself abroad by the end of the year.
Zamora edged the opening exchanges but, in the first of many setbacks, experienced defender Ángel Faría was given his marching orders after 21 minutes while receiving treatment for injuring himself after his dangerously high challenge on an opponent.
However, though Wanderers were initially buoyed by this turn of events, any hopes that Zamora would cautiously revert to defensive measures were soon quashed just five minutes later. A poor clearance was blocked by Murillo in midfield, which then fell kindly for the pacy attacker allowing him to break as he raced all the way into the area to slot home the opener. This goal occurred in a memorable week for the youngster, coming as it did six days after he scored after 37 seconds on his international debut.
Zamora were further emboldened soon after on the half-hour mark as opponent Adrián Colombino levelled up the numbers by receiving his second yellow for a mis-timed challenge. With Wanderers now having to re-organise, the Venezuelans continued to embark on attacks but as the half was drawing to its close, their hosts began to claw their way back into the game, eventually striking just before the intermission. Maximiliano Olivera, a left-back who featured at 2011’s U20 World Cup, crossed first-time from his desginated side of the pitch into the area where forward Gastón Rodriguez sidefooted a shot past Álvaro Forero, who will be disappointed not to have blocked it.
Soon after the second period commenced, Zamora narrowly survived a scare in the goalmouth as a header was cleared off the line. Then, in the 54th minute, defensive-midfielder Arles Flores roamed forward and, from around 30 yards out on the inside-right, restored the visitors’ lead by unleashing an unstoppable strike that darted into the top corner.
A moment to savour no doubt, but not one Flores was going to let drift away routinely without first commemorating accordingly. Indeed, immediately after scoring he ran to pick up the ball from the net and implored his team-mates to all stand in a line, six of whom duly obliged including a substitute. Defender Luis Ovalle also made a hasty jog to stand on the end of this ensemble but was deemed by Flores to be too late, causing him to hide his disappointment in a manner no more convincing than that of a man who has just ran to catch a bus only to watch on as it departs despite him being in full view of the driver’s rear-view mirror. Having not made the final cut, he missed out on twinkletoes Flores bowling the ball at his team-mates, who all duly fell to the floor in near-precise unison to complete a wonderfully choreographed celebration that has since received attention far outside of the South American continent.
Arles Flores’ stunning goal and team celebration for Zamora FC away to Montevideo Wanderers, Copa Libertadores, 17 February 2015 (Courtesy of YouTube user: FootballManiaChannel).
Manager Julio Quintero watched on admiringly throughout all of this, emitting something approaching a smile with his lollipop-congested chops. Almost immediately afterwards, his charges nearly extended their lead as Murillo hit a stunning shot from 25 yards that left goalkeeper Leonardo Burián rooted to his spot, sailing over his head only to rebound off the crossbar. Subsequently, for the next 20 minutes both sides duked it out in what became a rather open, end-to-end encounter, in which Zamora looked as likely to go 3-1 up as they were to be pegged back.
However, with an impressive win in sight, things began to unravel in a wearily familiar fashion for the Venezuelans. Attempting to deal with a long ball, Panama international Ovalle badly misjudged the whereabouts of the predatory substitute Leandro Reymundez and when the Uruguayan suddenly emerged in front of him in the area, the Zamora defender rashly opted to haul him down. Straight away Ovalle knew he was going to pick up his second yellow card and revert his side back to a man-disadvantage. Nicolás Albarracín, a forward who missed the decisive penalty in the shootout for the title against Danubio back in June, stepped up and this time held his nerve to put the side from the Uruguayan capital back on level terms.
The hosts suddenly scented victory and it did not take them long to go ahead for the first time in the game, as with eight minutes remaining Albarracín turned provider with a fine left-footed cross from the right that Reymundez deftly glanced home. As the clock ticked away, Zamora looked more likely to concede than score – no more so than when, with a minute of regulation time left, substitute Yuri Galli blasted a fine effort against the post for Wanderers.
Deep into stoppage-time, both sides saw their respective on-field personnels diminished further as the hosts’ Juan Mascia and the visitors’ star man Murillo received their marching orders, seemingly for an altercation as well as some choice words. Many Uruguayans may feel this was belated justice for Murillo as just under a month prior in their homeland he was undeservedly kept on the pitch in a South American Youth Championship match. Indeed, in farcical circumstances, Venezuela’s Under-20s managed to hold onto a 1-0 victory over Uruguay’s youngsters after Murillo played a leading role in getting an opposition equaliser ruled out after he subjected the timid referee to sustained intimidation.
When the whistle went in Parque Central, Venezuelan promise had once again been converted into a sour aftertaste as the Wanderers of Montevideo recorded a 3-2 victory to end what had been a 13-game undefeated streak for Zamora. The Uruguayans will now surely have a spring in their step ahead of next week’s daunting encounter away to Boca Juniors.
Chile’s Palestino – who Boca defeated 2-0 the following day – will be Zamora’s next opponents in what is already looking like a must-win game if either side is to have much confidence of reaching the knock-out stage. The Venezuelans will now have to contest this game at their Agustín Tovar stadium with three players out suspended. Given the quality of Murillo’s performance, one would presume his absence will be a debilitating blow, though hope may not be entirely lost as it is a curious fact that the majority of his side’s impressive domestic run occurred while he was away on Under-20 duty.
Irrespective of what happens, be sure to check back onto this site or follow @DarrenSpherical for more updates on the Copa Libertadores campaigns of Zamora and their fellow Venezuelan sides, Deportivo Táchira and Mineros de Guayana.