With VAR as an ally, Estudiantes achieved a good draw with Paranaense in Brazil

With VAR as an ally, Estudiantes achieved a good draw with Paranaense in Brazil

Photo: AFP.

Students from La Plata celebrated this Thursday night with a goalless draw against Athlético Paranaense, for the first leg of the quarterfinals of the Libertadores, their 117 years of existence, once again valuing their traditional “mystical cup”.

“Paranaense is the great candidate to go to the semifinals because of its budget and the players it has. We are here to fight”said the goalkeeper Mariano Andújar, who this Thursday reached 50 games in the Copa Libertadores and 389 wearing the student shirt, the fifth in history that the La Plata club wore it the most times.

However, when analyzing the game and apparently in the crowded Arena da Baixada, the words of the experienced goalkeeper, who turned 39 on July 30 and renewed his contract with the red-and-white institution until December 2023, sounded more like cabal than like conviction.

Because reality implies that beyond the fact that the Brazilians showed muscle at the stroke of their wallets by repatriating Fernandinho, already 37 years old, from Manchester City no less, those led by Ricardo Zielinski were not far behind when it came to fighting half of the field hand in hand.

In that future of the game, the locals only managed to exercise certain supremacy for brief periods of the first half, but in general terms the development was quite even and even “Pincha” had a good opportunity to break the zero through the Uruguayan Manuel Castro , whose shot hit the right side of the net.

On the other hand, the hosts managed to demand Andújar with a free kick that the goalkeeper managed to deflect down, against his left post, and not much else in those initial 45 minutes.

In the complement nothing changed much until the middle of its course, but halfway through it the pressure of the red and black began to grow, who tried through a route that is the strong point of Estudiantes as the aerial game.

Photo EdelpOfficial Twitter
Photo: @EdelpOficial (Twitter)

There the “big men” of the La Plata team began to stand out, with the Uruguayan Agustín Rogel as the standard-bearer of the resistance along with the Paraguayan Jorge Morel and Luciano Lollo.

By then, the Argentine team was already betting on a lucky counter on the fast feet of the Uruguayan duo made up of Castro and the newcomer from Montevideo Wanderers, Mauro Méndez, 23, who started in his second game at the club.

Of course, the options presented to them were few and unclear, something similar in quality to what happened with those led by Luiz Felipe Scolari, although these were more important in quantity.

So it was that after 35 minutes, in one of the many crosses that fell on the student area (Tucuman striker Tomás Cuello was one of the most throwers), a local player, Thiago Heleno, won for the first time, putting his bald head to defeat Andújar against the stick the archer was standing on.

However, the euphoric celebration of the local fans and the unease of the visiting footballers quickly mutated after the intervention of the VAR, which told the Venezuelan referee Jesús Valenzuela that he should cancel the goal due to the advanced position of the one who had sent the center, the defender Khellven.

In the 15 minutes that remained ahead (five were added) there were not many more upsets for the Argentine team, which was about to keep everything in the last action of the match when a left-footed shot from outside the area by recently entered Mateo Pellegrino ( coach Mauricio’s son) brushed past the right post of Bento’s goal.

And everything was just a draw, with the definition open for the next and final game that will take place next Thursday, from 9:30 p.m., in La Plata. But for now, the handful of Estudiantes fans who came to Curitiba ended up celebrating, and that was the clearest symptom of what this tie represented for the everlasting “mystical cup holder” of “Pincharrata”.



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