Deportivo Táchira vs Nacional
Estadio Pueblo Nuevo
Nacional played well, were bold at times but couldn’t find the crucial goal to boost their qualification hopes. This stalemate all but signals the end of both sides’ Copa Libertadores campaigns. Neither team was helped by the torrential rain that came down before the game and during the first half making football almost unplayable in the middle of the pitch.
The opening twenty minutes passed without much incident as the teams employed differing styles, Táchira were slow in possession and looking to build things intricately around the box although they looked better when they spread the ball wide. Nacional on the other hand were more direct trying to get the ball in behind as German Cano stretched the Venezuelan defence. The best chances for either side came in the latter stages of the first half, Diego Guerrero forced a good save from Nacional ‘keeper German Caffa with a shot from distance. Moments before half time the visitors came close when left back Marcos Miers headed over the bar from a corner and then Cano was pushed over in the penalty area, the referee’s response was to blow for half time a minute early.
The early part of the second period was pockmarked with fouls, mostly by Táchira, but Nacional were unable to compensate from the set pieces as the home team began to search for a goal. Angel Chourio was impressive as he began creating chances and looked dangerous. On 66 minutes Nacional had their best chance, Miers managed to win a 50/50 on the halfway line and the loose ball fell to Cano who used his pace to race clear, one on one with the goalkeeper he contrived to shoot wide with the goal at his mercy. Táchira had a penalty appeal of their own when a rogue Denis Caniza arm held back his opponent briefly, the referee declined to bow home pressure and play continued. Ricardo Mazacotte shot wide on 70 minutes following a good move by Nacional and he was set up by Rodrigo Teixeira’s backheel.
Arguably one of the biggest surprises was that Teixeira remained on the pitch instead of Cano (replaced by Ariel Bogado) as the Brazilian had seemed to tire considerably. In fact the heavy pitch took its toll as neither side could muster much attacking football in the final twenty minutes, the best two chances coming right at the end. Slack marking from the Academia allowed Wilker Angel a free header in the box but the defender headed wide with five minutes remaining. Teixeira then struck the crossbar from a freekick with the last kick of the game in what would have been a thrilling end to a not so thrilling game.
Nacional’s next game is against Corinthians at home on the 11th of April which they will have to win; but first they need to hope Táchira can take points off Cruz Azul in Venezuela next week.
Nacional XI: I.Don, R.Mazacotte, D.Caniza, H. Miranda, M.Miers; G.Noguera, J.Villareal, M.Riveros, G.Cristaldo; R.Texeira, G.Cano
Subs: C.Ruiz Peralta for G.Noguera, A.Bogado for G.Cano, Angel Orué for G.Cristaldo
By Ralph Hannah