Atletico Tucuman score Copa Libertadores upset using borrowed kits
Atletico Tucuman on Tuesday beat El Nacional of Ecuador, 1-0, in the return leg of the second round of Copa Libertadores on Tuesday despite being more than an hour-and-a-half late for the kickoff in Quito and wearing kits and boots borrowed from the Argentina under-20 team.
The Argentina side saw their flight delayed nearly three hours in Guayaquil because their chartered flight to Quito did not have clearance to fly with passengers.
After they boarded yet a second plane and the flight finally landed in Quito, the players were transported by bus to the Atahualpa Olympic stadium but did not know whether they would be permitted the play the match because CONMEBOL regulations dictate that a team forfeit if they are more than 45 minutes late for a match.
The players arrived in Quito without their luggage, but borrowed kits and boots from the Argentina U20 side, who are in the Ecuador capital to face Brazil on Wednesday.
Tucuman coach Pablo Lavallen said that he didn't know whether they precautions that led to the flight being stopped twice on the runway before takeoff were designed to intimidate them, or merely extra security given the recent Chapecoense air disaster.
"There are no words for what happened at the airport," Lavallen told ESPN after the victory. "Someone stopped our plane for two hours. Two hours! And here you have the result. We got to the stadium and played without warming up. They were threatening us [en route] with not being allowed to play the match after we had arrived. Here you have the result. God is just."
El Nacional coach Eduardo Favaro told EFE news agency that the Ecuador side requested that Tucuman be forced to forfeit but later agreed to play the match "under protest" before more than 30,000 fans.
"We became strong in the face of adversity," Tucuman forward Fernando Zampedri, who scored the winning goal, told ESPN.
"We were stuck in the airport [in Guayquil] since 1 p.m. and the uncertainty worked against us. Then we didn't know whether we would play or not, and that messes with your mind.
"We were a bit tired by the time we got here, but we wanted to play and my teammates and the coaching staff were all in agreement and we decided to make the best of a really bad situation."
Zampedri said he didn't know whether the flight delay was by design or due to security.
"They took us on and off the runway two times. We spent two hours sitting on the plane. I don't know [whether it was intentional]," he said. "Right now, we are happy, we have celebrated and we are just glad we won."
Last week, in front of their own fans and playing in Copa Libertadores for the first time in club history in the first leg of the qualifying round, they drew 2-2. They now face Atletico Junior in the third round.
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