Robinho Lazaró spent two weeks between league stages celebrating becoming the greatest Colombian ever to try his hand at football management. But his attention swiftly switched to targeting a league stage double and Copa Libertadores progression.
For the second time in 12 months, one of his midfield stalwarts departed for Cruzeiro. Captain Ronaldo Bermudez had six months on his contract and revealed he planned to leave on a free after a perceived lack of game time. So, after 10 years and 354 games for the club, Lazaró allowed him to move on for £700k. Winger Jaiber Prince followed suit over “a lack of football” as Lazaró rested exhausted players, and he managed to get £6m out of Corinthians.
That meant Cristian Gutiérrez got his chance to start on the left, while winger Norberto Beltrán and midfielders Alejandro Carabalí and Yelkin Montero were promoted.
Copa Libertadores Knockouts
Envigado’s group win saw them handed a second-round tie with four-time winners Sao Paulo, who won the tournament as recently as 2031. The away leg was first up and Lazaró took a defensive approach, which started well as free-scoring striker Edisón Borrero scored inside 30 seconds to give them something to hold onto. Sao Paulo had the best of things and eventually equalised after an hour. But that man Borrero doubled his tally by latching onto a through-ball from Gutiérrez, who sealed an impressive 3-1 victory late on. Back on home ground, Gutiérrez and Mateo Acevedo gave them a great start with two goals in 21 minutes. And, for the second time in a month or so, they survived a comeback to progress 5-4 on aggregate.
Their reward was a clash with another Brazilian giant in Palmeiras, against whom Envigado had lost all four previous meetings conceding 14 in the process. However, they bucked that trend in the home leg as, despite twice going behind, Borrero and Acevedo earned a draw in a game that set a new gate receipts record of £200k. Lazró took a more defensive approach to Brazil and it came so close to working as Acevedo’s goal had them level until the last few minutes. But an 88th-minute winner broke Envigado hearts.
Palmeiras went on to lose to Flamengo in the semis before Santos beat Flamengo 3-2 in the Final to win Libertadores for the third time in seven years. While Borrero became the first Envigado player to win the Golden Boot with nine goals in 10 games.
Seeking The Double In Finalización
Lazaró’s youthful side began Finalización with a dominant display at Santa Fe, racking up 28 shots and scoring two through striker Jhon Medina and Gutiérrez. The promising Medina delivered again with both goals in a 2-0 win at home to América, scored late on as a substitute in a 3-1 win over Quindío and bagged a hat-trick in a 5-1 win at Cúcuta.
With the continental football out of the way, Borrero returned to also score a hat-trick in a 5-2 win over Cortuluá, which took him past 40 goals for the season. He added two more in a 2-1 win at Magdalena as Envigado won their first eight games of the stage, which ended with 2-2 draws at Pereira and Fortaleza. But a fully rotated team managed to beat Independiente 2-0 with new academy graduate winger Juan José Vizcaino scoring the opener on his debut.
A 0-0 at home to 2nd-place Millonarios kept Envigado three points clear of them and unbeaten after 13 games. They stayed there as Borrero scored the opener in a 2-1 win at home to Santander, which saw him score 50 goals for the second successive season. But they lost top spot as they finally lost 1-0 at Nacional.
Borrero broke his own goalscoring record as a hat-trick at Petrolera saw moved him to 54 goals for the season. He was unavailable for the penultimate game but his replacement Medina came in to score twice and take Envigado top of the league on goal difference going into the final day. Then Acevedo and Borrero strikes inspired a 2-1 win at Cali to secure top spot.
As Finalización table toppers, Envigado got a group with América de Cali and two local rivals Atlético Nacional and Independiente Medellín. Annoyingly, Borrero twisted his ankle and would miss the entire post-season. But no worries as Medina came into score the opener before Acevedo secured a 2-1 win at América then scored again before Alirio Plaza bagged a late brace to nick a 3-2 win over Nacional.
However, the regular fixture chaos occurred so a fully rotated team welcomed América and secured a 2-2 as 16-year-old striker Jhon Rivas scored on his debut before Carabalí scored his first senior goal. Medina and a rare strike by Gianfranco Bahoque – whose form dipped after throwing his toys out the pram when Lazaró rejected a derisory bid from Flamengo – sealed a 2-0 win over Independiente to take control of the group. Two days later, Rivas came in and scored the opener at Nacional before midfielder Cristian Ortíz and Medina earned a 3-3 draw that wrapped up the group with a game to spare.
The group wrapped up with a rotated team earning a 1-1 at Independiente thanks to 16-year-old winger Juan Mosquera also scoring on his debut.
Standing in the way of an Envigado double was reigning Finalización champions Millonarios. Lazaró took a more cautious approach into the away leg and a Montero goal inside 17 seconds gave them something to defend. Midfielder Juan Fernando Rivas doubled the lead but Millonarios were handed a dubious penalty in injury time to make it 2-1.
The week between games allowed Borrero to take a place on the bench, while Acevedo was suspended. Millonarios started the better and bossed the first half, but didn’t get their reward until nine minutes after the break. They continued to be on top but couldn’t find a way past José Mosquera, while Envigado offered absolutely nothing. And that predictably saw the teams go to penalties. Ortíz missed the first spot kick but Mosquera saved Millonarios’ second. Both teams scored their next five then Mosquera saved another. That gave centre-back Eder Franco the chance to be a hero, and he calmly popped the ball into the bottom corner.
Envigado won an Apertura and Finalización title double!!
Envigado finished the campaign with an outrageous 130 points and a new league record 135 goals, bettering the previous record of 130 set by Deportivo Cali in 1997, which they equalled last season. They topped the league by 21 points and only lost six times in 56 matches!
Borrero broke his own league record as he plundered 46 in just 37 games, which was 10 more than Nacional striker Restrepo. Unsurprisingly, he defended his league Player and Young Player of the Year awards. While Acevedo topped the assists chart with 23 plus 17 goals in 42 games. and came second in the Player of the Year award. And Lazaró won a fourth successive Manager of the Year award and his seventh in total.
Another Record-Breaking Season
Lazaró didn’t think Borrero’s record of 53 goals last season would be beaten any time soon. But 12 months later, the striker, now 20, surpassed it with an incredible 55 goals in 50 games and a ridiculous 7.72 average rating. This kid is absolutely incredible!
As if that wasn’t enough, Medina also impressed with 25 goals in 46 games and Acevedo got 24 goals and 25 assists in 55 games. Gutiérrez stepped up with 10 goals and 12 assists and Bahoque got 10 assists from midfield.
Having lost Prince, Lazaró was keen to keep hold of his top talents. To do that, he made Acevedo the highest-paid player in club history as he signed a new deal on £18k a week until 2038. Borrero was also locked down to a new deal until 2038, but Lazaró was able to get a three-year extension on top of that, potentially keeping him at Envigado until 2041. Likewise, the board was keen to do the same with their manager, tying Lazaro down to a new £3.2k deal until 2039.
The summer of 2035 could be interesting as some of South America’s biggest clubs were sniffing around Envigado’s players. Could Lazaró keep his team together? Join us on Friday to find out!
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