Copa Libertadores' opening match was an excellent advertisement for the tournament. Barcelona dominated the first half, but fell apart late and gave away a dramatic equalizer to Nacional.
Barcelona and Nacional put on a show in the first match of the Copa Libertadores group stage, playing to a thrilling 2-2 draw in Uruguay. The visitors got off to a brilliant start, taking a two-goal lead in a dominating first half performance, but a red card and some poor set piece defense led to the two sides sharing the points.
Damian Diaz netted the opener with a half-volley, struck from 25 yards and looped over the hand of Jorge Bava. The move started innocuously, with a long kick up the pitch by Barcelona keeper Maximo Banguera, but a 50-50 header deflected to an unmarked Diaz. Without hesitating, he took a rip and scored a spectacular goal.
The visitors doubled their lead in the 25th minute on a great move down the left flank. Michael Arroyo and Geovanny Nazareno played an impressive exchange down the wing, with Nazareno eventually beating his man before hitting a square ball across the face of goal for Arien Nahuelpan to finish off.
Nacional came out much more spirited and lively in the second half, but struggled to find a breakthrough. They brought on veteran Alvaro Recoba as a substitute, and that proved to be a brilliant decision, as he would ultimately assist on both goals. Both came on set pieces, with the first going to fellow geriatric substitute Sebastian Abreu in the 68th minute.
Things got chippy shortly afterwards, as a couple of fights broke out, and both teams had a man sent off. Jose Perlaza picked up a second yellow card for a shove to the chest of Abreu, and Alejandro Lembo saw red for a bad tackle just a couple of minutes later.
The equalizer came in stoppage time, with Recoba delivering a corner to set it up once again. This time around, he found forward Ivan Alonso, and the home crowd went absolutely bonkers. With the Nacional players still celebrating, Barcelona took off down the pitch and nearly scored a winner right off the ensuing kickoff, but Bava came up huge to deny Nahuelpan on a one-on-one to preserve a point for Nacional.