América de Cali and Jaguares avoid relegation and qualify for the top eight, while Medellín misses out as the Liga Águila quarterfinals approach. Cortulua lost their battle against relegation.
Eight teams have qualified for the Liga Águila quarterfinals, but not without drama in the last round. Independiente Medellín, who were sitting pretty in a playoff spot before the final round went up against local rivals Atlético Nacional. In an erratic derby neither side could make the difference. It got a bit tasty in the dying seconds of the game when Didier Moreno from Medellín and Dayro Moreno from Nacional were shown the red card. Medellín offensive midfielder Mao Molina, who had already announced he would hang up his boots after this game, got involved and ended his career with a red card.
Jaguares took advantage of the situation with an easy home victory over Rionegro Águilas and snatched the final spot in the top eight, where they will join three teams from Bogotá, – Millonarios, Independiente Santa Fe and La Equidad – América de Cali, Junior de Barranquilla, Atlético Nacional and Deportes Tolima.
Junior are widely seen as the title favourites with Yimmi Chará and Teófilo Gutíerrez still in scintillating form, but the team from Barranquilla is also active in the Copa Sudamericana semifinals and the matches are quickly piling up. Without great squad depth the main question will be if they cope well with the amount of games. Tolima weren’t expected to be in the finals after a poor season start, but when manager Alberto Gamero took the reigns for the second time halfway through the season, the team suddenly became one of the most successful teams in the league.
The Liga Águila quarterfinals, played in the weekends of November 26 and December 3 are as listed below
Junior vs. América de Cali
Independiente Santa Fe vs. Jaguares
Atlético Nacional vs. Deportes Tolima
Millonarios vs. La Equidad
On the other end of the table there was another fierce battle going on to avoid the trapdoor. Tigres was the first one to crash out, but there were four contenders for the second spot. Due to the complicated three-year-average that decides relegation, América de Cali and Jaguares weren’t just fighting for the play-offs, but also to stay in the league and with the victory in the last round they survived.
It was down to Atlético Bucaramanga and Cortulua. Cortulua seemed to dodge the bullet when it was 1-1 in Manizales versus Once Caldas, staying above Bucaramanga on goal difference, but a 92nd-minute winner from Once saw the Cortulua players end up in tears. Three years after they got promoted for the last time, they are going back to the purgatory of the second division.