El día que la Chinita le hizo el milagro a la Vinotinto

El 18 de noviembre de 2003, hace más de 16 años, la Vinotinto logró una de sus victorias más dramáticas que se recuerde. Un día de júbilo y fiesta que representa el fervor religioso para el zuliano. No había mejor escenario para un milagro que el Pachencho Romero de Maracaibo.

Venezuela venía de ganarle a Colombia en Barranquilla un gol por cero gracias a la zurda mágica de Juan Arango. Eran las eliminatorias para el mundial de Alemania 2006. Richard Páez y sus muchachos comenzaban a levantar el entusiasmo y pasión Vinotinto en todo el país. Lo que comenzó con José Omar Pastoriza parecía tomar forma con el merideño.

Corría el día entre la devoción a la Chinita y la gente preparándose para ir al Pachencho. Mucho más temprano ya se había realizado el tradicional juego de beisbol de la Chinita y Magallanes le había ganado cuatro a tres a las Águilas. Los Zulianos necesitaban olvidar rápido esa derrota y la mejor oportunidad era ver a la selección de fútbol.

Caía la tarde noche y los alrededores del complejo deportivo estaban completamente llenos. Las emociones desbordadas por una selección que ahora estaba ganando y lo hacía jugando buen fútbol. Atrás comenzaban a quedar los años de estadios vacíos, de poca importancia, ver a la selección y sus goleadas recibidas.

El inicio del partido

Con un estadio abarrotado por más de 24 mil personas comenzaban los 90 minutos más dramáticos de los últimos tiempos hasta ese momento para Venezuela. El profe Richard Páez tomó la decisión de salir a la cancha con un 11 de lujo en ese momento. En el arco Gilberto Angelucci, Luis “Vallenilla” Pacheco, José Manuel Rey, Alejandro Cichero y Jonay Hernández en defensa. Leopoldo Jiménez, Gaby Urdaneta, Ricardo David Páez, Juan Arango en el medio, Daniel “Cari Cari» Noriega y Ruberth Morán en la delantera.

 A lo largo de los primeros 25 minutos Venezuela tuvo tres oportunidades claras de gol que no pudo concretar, de esas tres, dos de Juan Arango. Estaba la selección completamente volcada al ataque, pero no había manera de que llegara el gol. “Cari Cari” Noriega también estuvo muy cerca de anotar para la Vinotinto, pero el grito de gol seguía ahogado totalmente.

Un grito de gol que se ahogó muchísimo más cuando Bolivia se fue arriba en el segundo tiempo. Un histórico de la selección del altiplano como Joaquín Botero aprovecharía el descuido de la defensa y encontraría un balón solo para con un simple toque llevarla al fondo de la red. Era el minuto 60 de partido y el Pachencho Romero quedaba en silencio absoluto ante la celebración boliviana. 

Venezuela no bajaría los brazos. Pero con el pasar de los minutos y los cambios que realizaba el asistente técnico Napoleón Centeno igual no se encontraba el gol. Richard Páez con mucho entusiasmo y fervor dirigida a través de un comunicador desde las gradas porque para este partido cumplía una sanción. El nerviosismo era muy grande y la presión se sentía en el ambiente.

La Chinita hizo el milagro Vinotinto

Corría el minuto 88 de partido y las esperanzas de la Vinotinto se desvanecían. Pero llegó una falta muy cerca del área y los ojos de todos se posaron en José Manuel Rey. El central Vinotinto con una de las pegadas más fuertes que se hayan visto conseguía una oportunidad de oro para Venezuela. La tensión era tal que costaba respirar, la angustia por saber que pasaría hacia más dramático el momento. Todo el mundo respira profundo, la concentración de Rey mirando fijamente el balón es un momento memorable. Se oye el pitazo del árbitro, en un momento que todo parecía ocurrir en cámara súper lenta.

Rey comenzó su movimiento hacia la pelota. Al pegarle, fue automático el salto de la barrera y en una acción inesperada, el cobro fue por debajo, rozando la grama, cuando poco a poco se veía como la pelota pasaba al arquero y se introducía en el arco, llegaba el grito de gol más grande que se había escuchado desde el famoso tres a tres contra Estados Unidos por Copa América del año 93.

Minuto 90 y el partido se había empatado, pero el milagro no quedaba ahí y los muchachos de Páez en una acción rápida se la jugaron por todo, se había salvado un punto en casa, pero había que ir por los tres puntos de local.

En un toque de pelota extraordinario el equipo se abrió espacio hacia el arco luego de un robo de balón rápido ante el saque de Bolivia, al minuto 92, la zurda de oro de Juan Arango consiguió un espacio que no desaprovechó y muy decidido remató al arco. La pelota con un mínimo, pero contundente desvió se coló hacia el arco y llegó el gol de Venezuela justo para el pitazo del árbitro y el 2 a 1 final.

Cuando todo parecía perdido Venezuela logró la remontada, los abrazos, la alegría, incluso las lágrimas se dejaban ver por todo el estadio, desde los jugadores hasta la gente en las gradas se fundían en un solo abrazo de felicidad, Venezuela vivía una doble jornada de eliminatorias historia al ganar sus dos partidos y lograr seis puntos que la hacían soñar a pesar del largo camino que faltaba por recorrer.

Ese 18 de noviembre de 2003 quedará en el recuerdo Vinotinto como el día del milagro de la Chinita, el día que la virgen cubrió con su manto Vinotinto a los jugadores de la selección. Quedará en el recuerdo por siempre como uno de los partidos más memorables de Venezuela en la historia del futbol, como un juego que cambió la manera de seguir a la Vinotinto.

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