Nelly Furtado was right when she ‘sang’ All Good Things Come to an End. Barely three days after making history by winning nine consecutive league matches Universidad de Chile’s run had come to an end, just when it was looking like they would be unstoppable.
Travelling to joint bottom of the league Santiago Wanderers, a tenth consecutive win was almost a given. But it wasn’t to be and could have been much worse after the home side took the lead early on and then Universidad were reduced to 10 men when Marcos González was sent-off in the second half after Francisco Castro had equalised in injury time of half-time. But neither team threatened to take all three points while Santiago goal scorer Orué saw red late on.
There was only four minutes on the clock when Santiago Wanderers took the lead. A free-kick was won just inside La U’s half; Sebastián Rusculleda’s inswinging left-footed delivery caused Los Azules defence to drop deep into their box and La U midfielder Albert Acevedo glanced a header against his own post with Herrera scrambling across to keep it out. The ball fell invitingly for Ángel Orué to knock home the rebound into the empty net from inside the six yard box as Herrera lay helpless on the ground.
Not what La U had planned.
The game took a bizarre turn as a dog wandered onto the middle of the pitch – obviously looking to add some bark to proceedings (sorry). Two Wanderers players took the matter into their own hands, anxiously escorting the dog from the pitch with fear of getting bitten.
Los Azules were finding it difficult to settle into the game; both Lorenzetti and Vargas were being hassled as soon as they received the ball. Wanderers were forcing La U down to their level and the game plan was working perfectly.
The away side lacked any sort of fluidity or creativity as Charles Aránguiz and Francisco Castro were restricted to speculative efforts from distance.
It was unsurprising that La U’s first good chance came about in the 33rd minute when Gustavo Lorenzetti found room in the area in front of the box he loves to exploit. Lorenzetti deftly chipped the ball over the defence to meet the run of Aránguiz. Even though he hit his shot into the ground it was awkward for Eduardo Lobos in the SW goal, palming the ball back into the middle of the box where it was cleared before giving Castro the chance to score.
Out of nothing at the other end of the pitch Wanderers almost doubled their lead five minutes from the half-time whistle. Santiago’s danger man, Columbian Tressor Moreno, picked the ball up in acres of space in Los Azules half and threaded a ball into goal scorer Orué, but his first touch was so bad that it turned into a pass for Rusculleda, now switched to his natural left-side. Getting to the ball before Herrera the winger could only lift his shot into the side netting.
As the game entered stoppage time of the first half all the home side’s defensive work was undone. Ruscadella over ran the ball on the half way line then fell to the ground appealing for a foul that never came as the referee waved play on. La U captain José Rojas collected possession for and played a perfectly weighted ball into the run of Francisco Castro who had spotted the gap in the centre of defence, running off the full-back. His perfect run met the perfect ball and was completed with the perfect finish; high into the right hand corner at pace leaving Lobos with no chance.
An expected Universidad de Chile onslaught in the second half never materialised, both teams offering plenty of effort but there was a distinct lack of quality. Eduardo Vargas tried to inject some with a blistering run and shot from the right hand side of the Wanderers box but his attempt was beaten away by Lobos, again into the middle of a crowded box. And again he got away with it.
Before the hour mark 11v11 became 11v10 as Marcos González saw red for Universidad de Chile, collecting his second yellow card for a foul on Rusculleda. González was harshly judged to have tripped the Wanderer but appeared to stoop to head the ball as it bounced and had no idea where Rusculleda was.
Even as the numbers evened the away side were still the most threatening. Lobos strangely misjudged a Paulo Magalhaes delivery, forcing him to retreat and touch the cross over the bar. It was another Magalhaes cross that caused confusion in the Wanderers box in the 67th minute. A perfectly measured cross in the ‘corridor of uncertainty’, between goalkeeper and defence, was met by Eduardo Vargas. With the goalscoring run he has been on it was 2-1 before he had actually connected with the cross. Yet when he did he fired straight at Lobos. Either side was a certain goal.
Frustration became evident amongst players, especially the away side; Vargas pushing Santiago captain Moisés Villarroel to the ground and Rojas getting involved with a number of the home side’s players, unhappy they played on when a Universidad player was lying injured on the field.
The referee was shortly reaching for his red card yet again; this time scorer of the games first goal Orué was the culprit. A straight red card harshly followed a clumsy tackle from behind. A yellow would have sufficed.
The match, like it had been doing for most of the second half, petered out. Charles Aránguiz coming closest to scoring five minutes from time with a snap shot straight at Lobos from 15 yards out.
With a 16 point cushion over 9th place, Universidad de Chile is all but guaranteed a place in the play-offs. Yet will be disappointed that they could not extend their history making. Meanwhile Santiago Wanderers can take credit stopping the run of La U and should give the team confidence to push on for a play-off place as four points separates 13 teams.
Both teams are in action again at the weekend. La U entertain Deportes Iquique as Santiago Wanderers travel to San Felipe to take on Unión San Felipe.
Man of the Match: Tressor Moreno