Atlético Nacional, forced to play in Barranquilla (north) due to excesses that their fans staged in a local league match over the weekend, beat Melgar from Peru 3-1 on Thursday for the second date of Group H of the Copa Libertadores 2023.

Far from home and in an empty Metropolitan Stadium, the ‘purslane’ prevailed with a triplet by captain Dorlan Pabón (minutes 28, 38 from a penalty and 60). The visit discounted 58 thanks to Luis Iberico.

The triumph is a balm in the midst of the tense moment that the champion of the Libertadores Cup in 1989 and 2016, after the board suspended some benefits to Los del Sur, the team’s largest bar.

In response to that decision, some of its members attacked the police before Sunday’s game against América de Cali, leaving at least a dozen uniformed officers injured. The Medellín mayor’s office decided not to rent them the Atanasio Girardot stadium for the match against Melgar.

Atlético Nacional (6 points) is now the leader of the zone above Olimpia from Paraguay (4). Melgar follows them with a unit and Board of Argentina is last (0). The two best ranked in the group will meet on May 2 in Colombia and two days later Patronato will receive ‘El Dominó’ in the city of Santa Fe.

The great night of Dorlan Pabón in Barranquilla

Atlético Nacional suffered trying to adapt to the Barranquilla field at the start of the game. Their goalkeeper, Harlen Castillo, was a figure in the first 15 minutes with two saves.

But in the first arrival, those from Medellín wreaked havoc. The right winger Yerson Candelo ran across the entire band in the opposite field and when he reached the area he gave a back pass that Dorlan Pabón took advantage of to open the account.

“El Dominó” did not recover or come close to drawing when the referee awarded a penalty in favor of the locals. In a dispute in the area, the ball hit Horacio Orzán’s arm. With a powerful shot through the center, ‘Memín’ beat goalkeeper Carlos Cáceda once again.

In minute 58 Luis Iberico scored a header, but the idol of ‘El Verde’ scored the third two minutes later and raised the number of goals on his personal account in this edition of Libertadores to five.

Faced with an irregular performance in the Colombian league, the results in Libertadores give air to the Brazilian coach Paulo Autuori, his players and the club’s managers, a frequent target of the most radical fans who demand better reinforcements.

The outlook is different for Melgar’s coach, Mariano Soso. The Argentine arrived at the Arequipa club following the trail left by his compatriots Pablo Lavallén and Nestor Lawrence.

But with Soso, the red and black are ranked 17 out of 19 in the Peruvian league and must win against the weak Patronato to maintain their illusions of advancing in Libertadores.

with AFP

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