After a 1-1 draw in the Nuevo Gasómetro last week, San Lorenzo travelled to Quito for the second leg of their quarter-final tie with Liga Deportiva Universitaria knowing they faced an uphill struggle to qualify – playing at altitude against opponents who already had an away goal, and furthermore who had yet to lose a match in their own stadium in this year’s Copa. Again they went a goal and a man down, again they fought back – but this time it wasn’t to be. The tie went to penalties, and Liga were victorious.
Nerves to the fore, San Lorenzo didn’t start well at all. Goalkeeper Agustín Orión, who’d gifted Liga their goal in the first leg with a clumsy and ill-timed piece of ball-juggling, could have done it again in the first minute of the return. Racing from his penalty box, he clattered home forward Joffre Guerrón and was perhaps lucky to escape with only a yellow card. A shaky start, and yet it was San Lorenzo who almost drew first blood – Orión kicking long from his box to the head of Bernardo Romeo, who watched in agony as the ball, arcing from his flicked header, beat the goalkeeper and bounced off the crossbar.
The match opened out in an entertaining fashion thereafter, ex-Newell’s playmaker Damián Mansó going close for the hosts and Enrique Vera, just a minute later, seeing a long-range shot just off target. For their part San Lorenzo gave back whatever they could. A free kick from Adrián González was challenged for by Romero and Sebastián Bergessio, but neither could get to it. And 26 minutes in, San Lorenzo suffered the body blow. Mansó picked the ball up outside the box, looked up to consider his options, and sent a fulminating left-footer into the corner of the goal which Orión barely reacted to.
Ramón Díaz’s boys responded – Andrés D’Alessandro put a shot inches off target from mid-distance, but almost right away they found themselves down to ten men, after the referee judged Juan Manuel Torres to have been challenging for the man rather than the ball, and awarded him a straight red. Not for the first time in this Copa, Los Santos were hardly behaving like saints, and were a man down at a crucial point in the match, after just half an hour. But they continued to play – if not with much intelligence – with a lot of heart and fight, and carved out a few chances. Two minutes into the second half, Bergessio got the equaliser, rising high to send a powerful header in from an Adrián González corner.
Immediately, Ramón Díaz took off Romeo and replaced him with Aureliano Torres, seeking to protect the draw San Lorenzo had. Playing for penalties with forty minutes remaining might have been asking for trouble, but with a man less and at high altitude, he perhaps didn’t have much of a realistic choice. The rearguard held out, and the 1-1 final score, mirror of the first leg scoreline, meant penalties.
From the spot, Liga didn’t miss a single penalty, and when José Cevallos saved Aureliano Torres’ effort an entertaining tie was finally decided, 5-3 on penalties to the hosts. The circumstances of San Lorenzo’s fall were agonising, but came as much through their own failings as anything else. River, two goals and two men up with half an hour of the second round tie remaining, crashed and burned. Liga, in the quarters, almost let their opponents back in after going a goal and a man up. San Lorenzo have battled throughout this Copa, but after the amazing turnarounds in Potosí in the group stage and in the Monumental a couple of weeks ago, this was one step too far.
Liga Deportiva Universitaria de Quito (5) 1 – 1 (3) San Lorenzo