Colombia champions Atletico Nacional took a giant stride towards their first Copa Libertadores final appearance in more than two decades on Wednesday after scoring a stunning 2-0 away leg victory over Brazilian giants Sao Paulo.
Sao Paulo’s challenge began to unravel midway through the second half when captain and centre-half Maicon was shown a straight red card for a needless slap on the back of debutant Miguel Borja’s head as tempers frayed.
With the Brazilians struggling to reorganise their defensive ranks, Atletico Nacional struck twice through Borja in the final 10 minutes to leave the Colombian side from Medellin with one foot in the final.
Borja’s first came on 82 minutes, the forward rounding off a superb passing move to calmly slot beneath goalkeeper Denis to make it 1-0.
The second goal came six minutes later after another clever passing move from Atletico.
Macnelly Torres picked out Marlos Moreno inside the area with a lovely pass and the teenager pulled off a cheeky back heel which sent Borja into space.
Borja, who has been in prolific form this season with 21 goals for Cortulua before signing for Atletico Nacional, duly rammed home the finish to put the Colombians on course to reach the Libertadores final for the first time since 1995.
The winners of the semi-final will face either Argentina’s Boca Juniors or Ecuador’s Independiente del Valle, who were scheduled to play their semi-final first leg yesterday.
Atletico Nacional’s Miguel Borja celebrates his goal. (Reuters)