In a sold out Campín stadium, Independiente Santa Fe took their first Copa Sudamericana title against Huracán from Argentina on Wednesday evening. Following a goalless draw in Buenos Aires a week earlier, the match in Bogotá ended with the same score on the board. But the Cardenales came through on penalties, with goalkeeper Zapata giving the team plenty to celebrate as Santa Fe earnt their first ever international title.
The victory came after a tough week for the club, with Junior de Barranquilla knocking them out of the domestic league in the quarterfinals and a Caracol TV investigation making allegations of corruption against club president César Pastrana.
The match itself was a dour affair, with the only clear chance of the game materialising in the first minute of the game when Santa Fe goalkeeper Robinson Zapata lost concentration upon receiving a back-pass and nearly gifted Ramón Abila a goal. But the Huracán striker’s shot drifted over and neither team could shake off their nerves for the remaining 119 minutes. With Omar Pérez – still struggling for form after over two months out with injury – on the bench, the home side lacked creativity to create chances against a solid Argentine defence. For the visitors things were not much different. Star striker Abila made no headway against the always impressive giant Yerry Mina leading the Santa Fe defence.
These lacklustre performances failed to improve over the course of the game. On the contrary, the quality on show descended to an impressively abominable level for such a prestigious occasion as Huracán were happy wait for penalties and Santa Fe were simply unable to create danger, even with the Argentine goalkeeper Díaz suffering from cramps. Excitement for the crowd only arrived in the form of a sharp uppercut punch from Abila on Mina in the second half of extra time, to which the referee responded with a deserved red card for the Huracán player. But the Argentinians only had to play out the final three minutes with 10 men, and it wasn’t enough time to change the course of proceedings.
If the 210 minutes that preceded it were the definition of a stalemate, the penalty shoot-out could not have been more of a mismatch. Pelusso’s men got off to a flyer when Zapata came well off his line to save the first 12 yard attempt from Huracán’s Mauro Bogado. Omar Pérez then saw his attempt just about sneak into the goal under Diaz’ legs to give Santa Fe a lead they were never to lose. Another miss from Huracán and a Panenka-style finish from Luis Manuel Seijas gave the bogotanos a comfortable 2-0 advantage, and after both Mancinelli and Leyvin Balanta took their flawless penalties, the Argentine side’s Patricio Toranzo hit the crossbar to set off the festivities at the Campín.
After the game, Omar Pérez highlighted the character of the performance.
“This title is unique,” he said. “It is not just for the people of Santa Fe, but for all of Colombia. I hope football in Colombia keeps growing, because the level is high and the next team who will be in this tournament has a chance to win.”
Bogotá headed out en masse to celebrate in the Parque Simon Bolívar in the hours after the game, with the red-tainted party in Bogotá carrying on until the early hours.