Weekly Sudamericana Round-Up: Independiente & Zulia take late wins in Quarterfinal openers

The Sudamericana Quarterfinals got underway this past week, with a pair of home sides, Independiente and Zulia, claiming wins late on that put them in prime position heading into next week’s return legs.

The opening hour in Avellaneda between Independiente and Independiente del Valle on Tuesday night saw an apparent goal overturned by VAR for the hosts and a few more clear chances for each side.

It was Independiente del Valle who took the lead just on an hour played. Jhon Jairo Sánchez ripped a beautiful strike into the back of the net for the opener and what could be a crucial away goal for the Ecuadorian side.

Independiente rallied though, winning a penalty with just over 15 minutes to play. Silvio Romero stepped up to the spot and struck true, equalizing the score at 1-1. It would stay 1-1 into stoppage time, with Independiente seeing most of the ball. A corner for the hosts was played into a dangerous area, and with the goalkeeper rooted to his line, Romero popped up to poke the hosts in front, 2-1.

That advantage will serve Independiente well next week in the thin air of Quito, where they have the benefit of playing for a draw. Independiente del Valle though, will feel that they are well and truly still in the tie, needing just a 1-0 win to go through. 

Action shifted to Venezuela on Thursday afternoon, with Zulia coming out 1-0 winners against Colón thanks to a late goal from Abel Casquete. Both sides had goals overturned by VAR during the first 90 minutes, with offside in play on both decisions.

Colón were reduced to 10 men in the first half, and spent most of the second half fending off attacks from the hosts. A goal-line clearance saved the visitors, as did the post on at least one occasion.

Finally, as the 90 minutes neared a conclusion, Zulia struck. Colón’s goalkeeper gave up a rebound, and after a bit of pinball, Abel Casquete pounced to stab home the winner from in tight.

After the sweltering heat of Maracaibo yesterday, the Argentine winter of Santa Fe will surely come as a relief to Colón, who are behind on aggregate, but still very much in the tie.