They lost 2-1 against Tolima, but 3-1 in the first leg gave the Greens the title. 

They lost 2-1 against Tolima, but 3-1 in the first leg gave the Greens the title. 

When a team is for champion, everything works in its favor. Hernán Darío Herrera already said it before the match: that something from above was helping them… From being almost finished, with a Tolima that was going to continue long, Atlético Nacional had two key moments, a saved penalty and a goal in the last minute, to be crowned Colombian soccer champion again, after five years.

National They criticized many things: that he has defensive flaws, that many don't like the way he plays. But when he had to take out the hierarchy and weigh the shirt, he did it with flying colors. And although Tolima, in many moments, surpassed it, the celebration, at this hour, continues on the Paisa side.

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The one of necessity, the one of urgency, the one who had to go out and propose was Tolima. And he assumed responsibility with everything: they were 23 minutes at sheer vertigo, with the intention of taking ahead everything that tried to get through. Nacional was surprised and the only thing he managed to do was to lock himself in the surroundings of his goal and close spaces.

Tolima hit fast and warmed up the final

In that start, Tolima found the first formula to break that wall of Nacional: to play first class and surprise. And so, also with a bit of luck, he began to reduce the distance from 3-1 in the first leg on Wednesday in Medellín: Junior Hernández entered free to shoot the center, after a wall with Jeison Lucumí, and Emanuel Olivera he deflected it into Kevin Mier's goal.It was a fair reward, because before that he had already had a ball from Ureña that burned the goalkeeper's hands and a couple of shots from Jonathan Marulanda that opened a gap, but did not end well.

The game dropped in intensity , Nacional was finally able to get out of his area a bit and test how focused goalkeeper William Cuesta was, with a shot by Jéfferson Duque that touched the horizontal.

But with that attitude from the visitor, Tolima found space and hit the second blow, the one that equalized the match throughout the final, with a good cross from Luis Fenando Miranda (who had entered for Ibargüen, injured) and a header from Juan Fernando Caicedo , at 36 minutes.

Herrera had to move the team, to try to decipher a game that was more than entangled: he took out Jhon Duque and Andrés Andrade and put in Alexánder Mejía and Yeison Guzmán, to see if he could, at least get the ball back.

Nacional went from suffering to glory in a moment

The first ten minutes of the second half were a collective electrocardiogram in Ibagué and Medellín, with fans from side to side watching the VAR. First, a penalty from Olivera to Miranda that judge Andrés Rojas had not seen. And in a couple of minutes, it went from a possible 3-0 to a numerical inferiority: Daniel Cataño took a very bad penalty, Kevin Mier saved and on the rebound, the collector hit the goalkeeper badly. Cataño ended up expelled, again, under the gaze of video arbitration. Much of this star 17 is due to a goalkeeper who began as a substitute and who now, at 22, has shown that he has a huge future.

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They lost 2-1 against Tolima, but the 3- 1 of the first leg gave the title to the greens. 

The red card took the excitement out of the game. Nacional did not take advantage of the player too much, although he did demand goalkeeper Cuesta on a couple of occasions. In one of them, again, the VAR appeared in a leading role, when Dorlan Pabón put it in after a rebound from the goalkeeper, but the action was annulled because in the play prior to the initial shot, Jéfferson Duque received offside. In the Murillo Toro one breathed deeply…

There were nerves. Tolima tried to control the game by grabbing the ball, but without creating any danger. And Nacional couldn't find a way to unbalance either.

But in two minutes, the landscape changed completely. First, a free kick for Nacional. Giovanni Moreno, who came in for Daniel Mantilla and was key in helping his team, charged and demanded Cuesta. And from that corner kick came the 2-1, the one that gave Nacional the star, in the 90th minute: collection by Yeison Guzmán, combing by Olivera and second header by Jarlan Barrera.

Life can change in a minute. Or in two, at the beginning or at the end. And so, Nacional, who willingly and hierarchically compensates for some mistakes on the field, celebrates its seventeenth star. He is the most times champion, by far.

José Orlando Ascencio
Deputy Sports Editor

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