On a very chilly day in Central Florida, Colombia’s Atlético Nacional defeated Clube Atlético Mineiro of Brazil, 2-0. Los Verdolagas dominated long periods of a game in which they would have been the only justified winner. Coming off of Atlético Mineiro’s 1-0 loss to Glasgow Rangers on Thursday, the Brazilians have not found friendly confines in Orlando for the 2018 Florida Cup.
Despite the dominant performance by Atlético Nacional, it was Atlético Mineiro who led the way in shots on goal, with six to Nacional’s five. Even with the advantage in shots, Mineiro never looked all that threatening.
The game started slowly as the two South American sides looked to test one another without exposing themselves to a counter attack. It was around the half-hour mark that Atlético Nacional’s midfield began to control everything between the boxes. It was an effort that prevented the Brazilians from ever finding an attacking rhythm. Atlético Mineiro drew a number of fouls that eventually produced a yellow card against Rodrigão.
It was a moment of brilliance from Andrés Rentería who took a square ball along the top of the box and produced a one-touch run to finish off the goal in the 38th minute. The goal sent the legion of green-clad fans into a frenzy.
Halftime brought a massive reset from Atlético Nacional, substituting six players in for the second half. Despite the personnel change, the Colombians continued to dominate the ball. Atlético Mineiro did produce its chances and forced Christian Vargas to make three key saves to keep his club in the game.
In the 71st minute, Lucomi Jetson found himself in space around 35 yards out and made the most of it with a brilliant shot that proved impossible for Cicero to stop. After taking control of the game at 2-0, the Colombian side never looked challenged as it bullied the Brazilians in the midfield with crisp passing and a never-ending series of one-touch triangle play.
Atlético Mineiro did come close twice in the second half, first on a chaotic play resulting from a mistake from Vargas in the Nacional goal. After jumping for and missing the entry ball, it took heroics and an element of luck to recover and punch away the second chance as the ball bounced around the goal mouth. It seemed like Mineiro had been able to pull one back in added time, with the ball finding its way into the back of the net in the midst of a confusing scrum, but alas, the referee had already called time, capping a poor day all around for the club from Belo Horizonte.
Atlético Nacional will have to leave the stadium pleased with its effort and the result it produced.
Atlético Nacional will wrap up its Florida Cup adventure on Jan. 20 against Legia Warsaw in Tampa, while the Roosters of Atlético Mineiro will leave Orlando disappointed with two losses and no goals scored.
The Florida Cup resumes tomorrow with Fluminense (Brazil) taking on Barcelona S.C. (Ecuador) at 4 p.m. at Spectrum Stadium.