On Saturday I managed to get along to the Atahaulpa Stadium for a double-bill. Two matches, one after the other and all for $10.
Independiente are a small provincial team from Sangolqui, just outside Quito. Their stadium barely holds 8,000 people so they decided to move their home game against Barcelona to the Atahaulpa and its 35,000 capacity.
El Nacional also plays their home games in the national stadium so their game was pushed back earlier in order to accommodate the masses supporting Barca.
Even 3 hours before their game the Barcelona’s fans vastly outnumbered the other teams and they would continue to filter in throughout the first match.
The first game was El Nacional vs Deportivo Cuenca.
In the league table both teams were far adrift before this game in 8th and 9th position after a disappointing start to the 2nd term of the championship.
To say the first half was pedestrian was an over-statement. Both teams knocked the ball about like it was a kick about on the beach, creating half chances that were either schlaffed wide or collected by the keeper.
The teams seemed equally matched and created little chances until late in the game when two late goals changed the tempo.
The first goal was created by the Cuenca keeper, Juan Marcelo Ojeda on 75 minutes. His long ball long from his box caught the on-running Nicolás Domingo who then then crossed into the box where the ball was turned into his own net by Johan Gomez.
Juan Govea scored to level the match 10 minutes later.
Although the second match ultimately had the same score (1 – 1) the match wasgenerally more exciting and played at a faster pace.
In the first half Independiente were happy to let Barcelona attack and then pick them off on the counter. Both teams managed to knock the ball around well in midfield but their attacks broke down with over-hit crosses and miss-timed shots.
Barcelona looked the more dangerous with Narciso Mina looking particularly threatening down the left wing with his direct runs and dribbling.
Barcelona are notably more physical as a team and can bully other teams but Independiente looked equal to the Guayaquil giants and didn’t back down. The young team from Sangolqui were more than a match in midfield and really got stuck in, picking up a few yellows in the process.
In the end Independiente took the lead through Daniel Samaniego, in the 76th minute but again of Bryan de la Torre got the equaliser 10 minutes later.
To be honest I caught neither goal as the heat became unbearable and after over 4 hours in the Equatorial sun I had escape.
Olmedo are their surprise leader of the table after 10 games. Ciclón Andino (Andean Cyclone) hails from Rio Bamba and is the oldest club team in Ecuador. Despite this they have only won the current championship once in 2000 but have represented Ecuador 4 times in the Copa Libertadores. Their recent win against Deportivo Quito means they lead the table on goal difference but are still in relegation trouble as their cumulative points (over two terms) sees them in 2nd bottom overall.
Deportivo Quito is still floundering at the bottom and in the midst of a real crisis. Unless they can turn around their dreadful form relegation shall also be threat.
Round 10 results.
Liga de Loja 6 – 0 Técnico Universitario
Olmedo 2 – 0 Deportivo Quito
Macará 4 – 2 Manta F.C.
El Nacional 1 – 1 Deportivo Cuenca
Emelec 2 – 2 Liga de Quito
Independiente 1 – 1 Barcelona
There is a genuine strength to the Serie A this season with all teams taking surprising places. Usually the Guayaquil giants: Emelec and Barcelona would dominate along with Liga de Quito. This year however the smaller teams have stepped up to the plate and made genuine challenges to the status quo.