It was a midfield goal. Yes, half. A goal that was worth three points and could have been worth the three goals scored by Nacional. A ruse of those who have the gift of a good kick. It was Yerson Candelo who shook the ball with that unreal kick, made it go up and down in a long journey while all the fans and the players held their breath, and when the goal went from fantasy to reality, Atanasio Girardot exploded: It was the 2-1 that broke a close tie. In the end, the green team won 3-1 in the first leg of the final against Tolima, like that, with a goal that could well have been worth those three.
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The battle was tough. Tolima seemed immune to pressure, at least for most of the match, not all of it; if the cries of that fan could be heard beyond the mountains, those players in red wine played deaf; if that radiant green lit up the stands, those players pretended to be blind, but they weren't, on the field they looked good, with defiant eyes, those put on by warriors who think of nothing but victory.
< br>Tolima knew that the ball would not be his, that it would have a local owner, and so it was, with Nacional dominating, attacking with their voracity as star players. At 19 minutes Guzmán burned the hands of goalkeeper Domínguez, or it was the goalkeeper who burned the ball with his burning gloves. The Atanasio, which was a party, vibrated in all its majesty. It really looked like a boiling cauldron, but Tolima did not suffer. On the contrary, that team organized like a little machine of 11 exact pieces needed a moment of air and space to go to the front with a lethal attack.
It was a corner kick, the ball took a low flight, if the defense expected from above, the ball went down, mocking, one of those balls that carry danger inside. He landed in the area and there was Anderson Plata, that striker who lives between glory and criticism, ready to rise up as a hero. Ánderson has missed many goals, but he was not going to waste it. He did not do it. Silver's goal was golden.
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The Atanasio, for the first time that night, in just 22 minutes, suffered a terrifying silence. It was momentary, an instant of bitterness, a collective panic that subsided. The people raised their choirs again very quickly, to tear throats, because in a final there is no time for regrets or to pass saliva. Nacional received that injection immediately. The green team also had no time to cry. It was a goal. A disadvantage. But I had to go for the draw. Titanic task.
Going into that defense that looked like a block of cement in motion, was going to need a lot of tricks, and Nacional has them. Pabón took one out of his right boot with a shot from medium distance full of gunpowder.
Nacional came back
The next test was already definitive. Candelo threw a shoe, a ball that seemed docile, the goalkeeper Domínguez was waiting for it with serenity, but that ball was painted green, it had some revenge on its flight, because it hit just before, that ball that has done so much damage on so many courts, and the goalkeeper, the same one who had burned the ball, caught fire with it, hit the rebound, and like a locomotive without brakes, Danovis Banguero arrived at it, flat out, like someone who knows that this gift is not received twice, and he arrived the timely ball and pushed it towards the goal, then Atanasio Girardot emitted an immeasurable roar, a gooooooal that still has an echo, a goooooal that should have been heard even in Ibagué, it was 1-1, and the first half was running out. So it was a breather.
The drowned fans took a breath, if the euphoria allowed that old art to breathe, and then that choir that says, that commands, that cries out that “tonight we have to win! ”, and if the roar did not make the men of Tolima tremble, it must be that they are immune.
Second time, second breath. To the Andrés Andrade court, to the John Duque showers. National to all for all. However, it is known that attacking Tolima is a risk, those backlashes are scary. Plata is an expert in that, in one of his he generated a ferocious attack, Michael Rangel took the final shot and was already letting out the goal cry when the goalkeeper Mier stuck out his leg as if it were a hand and stopped the shot.
< br>Tolima, so immune to pressure, finally gave in, and failed. He missed the winning goal, then lost to Plata, injured. Then Candelo opened the box of tricks to spread magic on the court. He recovered the ball in his field, far, far away, he had not even reached the halfway point when he took that high shot, the ball made the deadly parabola, the goalkeeper Dominguez started the late return, the fans watched the trajectory, absorbed, the rise and the descent so as not to miss that great goal, a field goal, American football connoisseurs would say, and with that ineffable shot Nacional finally came back.
Then, Nacional found the third, by Andrade, already near the end. If Candelo's goal led them to euphoria, Andrade's gave them peace of mind. On Sunday, the star is defined in Ibagué.
Editor of EL TIEMPO
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