2014/15 Venezuelan Primera División Gran Final Second Leg
Sunday 17 May 2015 – Polideportivo de Pueblo Nuevo, San Cristóbal, Táchira State
Deportivo Táchira 1-0 Trujillanos (Deportivo Táchira win 1-0 on aggregate)
Video Highlights of Deportivo Táchira 1-0 Trujillanos, 2014/15 Venezuelan Primera División Gran Final Second Leg, 17 May 2015 (Video courtesy of Highlights Venezuela)
Veteran Rojas Wins for Deportivo Táchira their Eighth Venezuelan League Championship
In front of a domestic season-high attendance of 37,365, 37-year-old Jorge Rojas converted a penalty with 15 minutes left on the clock, thus claiming the 2014/15 Venezuelan championship for Deportivo Táchira – their eighth in their 41-year history.
Though they certainly rode their luck at times and may be considering deifying the woodwork that dramatically saved them at the death, they did edge proceedings here, at times dominating the play – no more so than in the first half.
Indeed, Trujillanos did not really seem in the game to begin with, as most of the running was made by Táchira, the highest-scoring team in the league who were welcoming back to their line-up Rojas and top-scorer Gelmin Rivas. Just three minutes in, centre-back Wilker Ángel found himself in acres of space just outside the area, where he received a cross-field pass from Yohandry Orozco but, perhaps a bit too casually, struck the ball a few yards over. While the hosts – and particularly Orozco – continued to threaten, with the winger later striking a shot that went just a couple of yards wide, it was Rivas who had the next real chance of significance. Indeed, after 26 minutes, he gained some space just inside the area and shot low, which goalkeeper Leandro Díaz did well to stop and, following a somewhat fortuitous ricochet, smother away from attackers looking to pounce.
However, despite being on the receiving end of this early pressure, it was actually Trujillanos who had the best opportunity to score in the half. Out of the blue, a cross came in from the right and Alfredo Padilla rose, unmarked and in space, but headed agonisingly wide of the far post. A gilt-edged chance, make no mistake, though by the time the final whistle was blown, it was not to be the only one that the visitors’ would regret not taking.
When the first period was brought to an end, though fans had endured 135 minutes of goalless action in this tie, there was no question that this game was significantly more enthralling than the first leg in Valera. Indeed, while the roars of the large crowd – almost three times as high as last week’s attendance – as well as the decisive nature of the game certainly helped, there were also far more attempts created.
The first of note in the second half came after 57 minutes, when Orozco’s corner was met in space by the incoming Javier López but, despite his advantageous position, he was to head a couple of yards wide. Although Orozco also attempted a decent half-volley a few minutes later, the home side were soon to wonder if they were going to be made to rue their misses as, somewhat surprisingly, Trujillanos grew into the game and rattled Táchira with their forward forays. Firstly, in the 64th minute on a counter-attack, Padilla found himself in plenty of space roaming infield from the right flank yet, though he had the option to play in a team-mate or have a shot at goal, he was evidently caught in two minds as he wasted the opportunity by weakly chipping the ball into the grateful hands of goalkeeper Alan Liebeskind. Just a couple of minutes later, Liebeskind was to be properly tested as Colombian Jarol Herrera suddenly struck a shot from over 25 yards that caused a spectacular, acrobatic save from the goalkeeper. However, drowning out the applause for this stop were the murmurs and cries of discontent from the home fans who were beginning to sense they may just lose the game that they were heavy favourites to win.
Although there was a response of sorts as, up the other end, promising youngster Carlos Cermeño hit a decent shot just a yard or two over from 25 yards, Trujillanos were to continue to threaten up until the final whistle. Indeed, in the 72nd minute, just before the match turned against them, another 20-plus-yard effort was parried out low by Liebeskind. Soon afterwards though, Táchira made their breakthrough as star playmaker César González was upended in the area and his side were awarded a penalty. Jorge Rojas, with over 80 international caps and with a high success rate from the spot since his January move from Metropolitanos, was never likely to crumble under the pressure and thus, having given Díaz the eyes, he rolled the ball into the back of the net.
To the surprise of no-one who has watched Táchira this season, manager Daniel Farías’ response to his side taking the lead was a cautious one, making a defensive substitution, removing arguably his leading attacking threat, Orozco. Subsequently, the vistors had the better of the closing stages and, with just two minutes remaining, came breathtakingly close to scoring. A blocked Trujillanos free-kick was to ricochet to a team-mate who shot low from just outside the area, evading Liebeskind’s dive, rebounding off the post to Luiryi Erazo whose close-range shot remarkably hit the opposite post, despite having virtually an open goal to aim at. Two times the woodwork saved the hosts, though the chaos in the area did not stop there as there was a scramble for the ball which saw two further shots blocked by the defence, before it was cleared.
After this miss, the home fans no doubt sensed it was destined to be their year and when the whistle blew, many ran onto the field, delaying the lifting of the trophy for some time afterwards. Ultimately, though this outcome was predicted even if it did not quite follow the anticipated script, Táchira are worthy champions, having put in a remarkable performance to snatch the Torneo Clausura at the death. Both they and Torneo Apertura winners Trujillanos will thus qualify directly for the 2016 Copa Libertadores group stage, with Caracas FC – who ranked highest in the Aggregate Table – having to go through the playoff route.
Results from the first legs of the final games on this mini post-season tournament (also played on 17 May):
Mineros de Guayana 2-3 Zamora
Carabobo 1-0 Deportivo Lara
The second legs will be played on 20 May and the winners will both gain entry to the 2015 Copa Sudamericana, which begins later in the year. Check back to this article for updates on these ties.
Results of the decisive second legs played on 20 May:
Zamora 3-2 Mineros de Guayana (Zamora won 6-4 on aggregate)
Deportivo Lara 1-0 Carabobo (1-1 on aggregate; Carabobo won 3-1 on penalties)
Consequently, Zamora and Carabobo will join Deportivo La Guaira and Deportivo Anzoátegui in the 2015 Copa Sudamericana, which will commence in August.