Junior of Barranquilla was crowned champion of the Colombian football league last night, after a thrilling match against Independent Medellin in which the final tie forced a decisive penalty shootout. Yesterday’s match was the second leg of a two-legged tie that ended in a draw. After a dramatic final, Arturo Reyes’ team won 3-5 from 10 meters and was crowned champion.
In the first match, played in Barranquilla a few days ago, the locals won 3-2, but in yesterday’s match in Medellin, the result at the end of the 90 minutes was 2-1 for the locals, which offered a tie that forced the tournament to be disputed in an agonizing penalty shootout that, finally, favored the coastal team. This brings to ten the number of league titles won by the most important club of the Colombian Atlantic coast.
The locals, forced to score quickly
Independent Medellin came out all guns blazing, bolstered by their home crowd, after losing the first match in Barranquilla by the minimum (3-2). At home, the aim was to score quickly to tie the tie, which they achieved before the first quarter of an hour, thanks to a powerful header by Varela on the edge of the six-yard box in the 13th minute from Cetre’s cross from a corner. Euphoria erupted at the Atanasio Girardot Stadium.
The match, however, was hotly contested in midfield, with no clear dominator and with Junior more determined to attack but lacking the finishing touch in this first stretch of play. With Medellin going on the attack, the visitors found space to mount dangerous counterattacks. In one of these plays, Junior crashed the ball against the crossbar and in another, the local goalkeeper heroically avoided the equalizer with a masterful save. Shortly before the end of the first half, Daniel Torres scored the second goal for the Medellin team, but after reviewing the VAR, the referee decided to disallow the goal for a handball prior to the goal. With the score at 1-0, the game went to the break.
Medellin outplayed by physically superior visitors
In the second half, Medellin came out on fire, totally dominating the ball and completely annulling Junior’s play. The dominance was rewarded only 10 minutes after the game was resumed, thanks to a mid-distance shot by Cetre, which was deflected by a defender and fortunately ended up inside Junior’s goal. It was 2-0 and now the stadium was in an absolute explosion of joy, as the result decided the tie and the league for the locals.
After another goal disallowed to Medellin, this time for clear offside, Junior began to take the reins, demonstrating an unquestionable physical superiority. The changes introduced by their coach also gave the team a more offensive air.
However, the visiting moves failed to end in goals. Time passed quickly and the result continued to give the league to Medellin, until in the 89th minute, a great goal by Vladimir Hernandez left the home crowd frozen. It was the 2-1 that meant the tie was tied and forced a penalty shoot-out.
Junior’s effectiveness in penalty kicks decisive
The lottery of penalties favored Junior. Their 100% effectiveness gave them the league, as they managed to convert the 5 shots they took. For their part, Independent Medellin only managed to score 3 penalties; Daniel Torres, the great figure of the match, missed, which gave the locals no option to take the last penalty.
The victory means the tenth star, which identifies the Colombian league champion, after 4 years of drought for Junior. The celebration of the champions will be today at 4 pm, Colombian time, in an emblematic space for the club, the Ventana de Campeones, in the capital of Atlantico.
The red and white party continues this Thursday at the monument, which was illuminated in the last few hours with the colors blue, red and white and the giant sign: ¡Champions! The players will leave the Dann Carlton Hotel, in the north of the city, and will head towards the Champions Window, with a celebration that will serve to inaugurate the celebrations in this new, but already emblematic construction, for the fans of Barranquilla.