Parma today confirmed the signing of 24 year old Colombian international Dorlan Pabon for a fee of 4 million euros, while Giovanni Moreno completes a move to join Drogba and Anelka at Shanghai Shenhua.
The Colombian striker, who was named the worlds eighth most prolific goalscorer this year by the IFFHS, has signed a 5 year contract with the Italian club. Pabon made his international debut in 2010 and he has become a regular in the national side alongside Radamel Falcao. While for Los Cafeteros Pabon plays behind Falcao, for his club side he often cuts in from the right wing. He has the ability and adaptability to play as a winger, a centre forward or an attacking midfielder.
The striker, known as 'memin' by Nacional fans because of his Road Runner like acceleration, became one of the continents rising stars following a string of excellent performances in this years Copa Libertadores. Pabon established a lethal partnership with midfield playmaker Macnelly Torres and scored 7 goals, including an incredible, swerving 40 yard freekick against Peñarol.
Dorlan Pabon began his career at Atletico Nacionals local rivals Envigado, a small club from a municipality to the south of Medellin. Pabon began his career as a right winger, scoring 16 goals in 67 appearances for the club. In 2010 Pabon made his dream move to the club he had supported as a boy, Atletico Nacional, where he played in a more advanced role, scoring 29 goals in 65 appearances.
The move to Parma means that Pabon will now follow in the footsteps of his idol, Faustino Asprilla. Asprilla rose to prominence as part of Nacional's championship winning side in 1991 before securing a big money move to the Parma. Jorge Bolaño and Jhonnier Montaño have also both enjoyed successful spells at I Crociati.
Parma will be delighted to have won the chase to sign one of the contents brightest stars, with Udinese, Galatasaray, Tottenham Hotspur, Roma, Marseille, Malaga and Rubin Kazan all reported to have expressed an interest in the striker.
Elsewhere, fellow Colombian international Giovanni Moreno signed a two year contract with Chinese club Shanghai Shenhua. El Flaco will play behind the formidable strike partnership of Nicolas Anelka and recent signing Didier Drogba.
The 25 year old attacking midfield players career followed a similar path to Dorlan Pabon. He began his career at Envigado, move to Atletico Nacional and then made his international debut following a string of impressive performances.
The skilful playmaker then moved to Racing Club in Argentina in 2010, impressing with a series of excellent performances. The midfielder has, however, struggled to find his best form following a series of injuries towards the end of last year. He has been unable to regain his place in the Colombian side and has received threats from groups of Racing fans.
The big spending Chinese club, which are now managed by former Argentine national coach Sergio Batista, will play the Colombian play-maker behind the former Chelsea pairing of Drogba and Anelka. Moreno has signed a 2 year deal at the club, with the option of a 2 year extension.
Colombia's Liga Postobon moves into its second round of fixtures with Pasto and Deportivo Cali leading the way in Group A, while Sante Fe and and Itagui are level at the top of Group B. The final day qualifiers, Chico and Huila, have so far struggled as the completion moves towards its climax and semi-finalists are decided.
Deportivo Cali built upon a solid start to the second round, with an excellent victory at home against Atletico Huila. Cristian Nazarit gave Deportivo the perfect start, stooping to header the home side ahead on the 4th minute. Cali doubled the lead just after the half-time break as full back Jefferson Murillo's deep cross looped over the goalkeeper and deflected off the far post. The ball broke to Uruguayan striker Gustavo Biscayzacu, who supplied the simplest of finishes. Huila worked hard to get back into the game, and they pulled one back on the 71st minute.
Panamanian midfielder Alejandro Velez stepped off the bench sporting the number 300 shirt, a blonde Balotelli-esque mohawk and teed himself up for a shot at goal from a 40 yard free-kick. Señor Velez clearly doesn't lack confidence, and the 23 year old's audacious attempt spun out of the reach of the goalkeeper and into the far corner. Deportivo Cali held firm and they will hope to continue their good start at home against Tolima in their next fixture.
Elsewhere in the group, Pasto snatched an superb 3 points as they travelled to face Deportes Tolima. Tolima began the second second group stage with a good win over Huila, but they failed to make their chances pay against Pasto and were punished. The decisive goal came 3 minutes into the second half, as Danobis Banguero fouled Edwards Jimenez inside the box. Victor Manuel Zapata Mera stepped up for the penalty kick and his rather tentative penalty kick had enough power to beat Jose Cuadrado in the Pasto goal.
Itagui will be delighted to have picked up a good win away to Boyaca Chico on Sunday. David Cordoba swept the loose ball into the top corner on 25 minutes, after finding himself unmarked in the penalty area. Itagui were reduced to 10 men on the 55th minute, and when Chico were certain the had won a penalty deep into the second half. The Itagui defender clearly punched a cross up into the air, the referee blew his whistle and awarded the visitors a free-kick for a non-existent push. Good fortune aside, Itagui have been very impressive this season and a win in the next game against Santa Fe will go a long way to securing qualification.
Santa Fe and La Equidad shared the points, in an end-to-end 2-2 draw on Sunday. La Equidad opened the scoring on the 49th minute as Leudo slid the ball into the net, following a slip by Vargas in the Santa Fe goal. The visitors pulled level against their Bogota rivals on the 52nd minute, as an excellent sweeping cross from deep was perfectly cushioned into the path of Cabrera, who headed into an empty net.
Three minutes later 'the insurers' struck back to regain the lead. Hinestroza picked up a sliced cross, shifted the ball onto his left foot and struck a perfectly placed effort across the goalkeeper into the bottom corner. La Equidad seemed to settle into the game, but 10 minutes later a lapse in concentration allowed Cabrera to latch onto a long throw ball and touch it round the onrushing goalkeeper to draw Santa Fe level. La Equidad will now have to pick up points away from home if they are to qualify from group B.
As the league stage of Colombia's premier club competition comes to a close Equidad, Pasto and Chico survive final day scares, while Patriotas and Junior suffer heartbreak.
The first stage of the Colombian Apertura was concluded on the weekend. The top 8 teams from the initial 18 club league stage progress to the second stage which features two groups of four teams. The second stage group winners then move on to the final, which is played over two legs at the end of June.
Independiente Medellin and Quindio brought their disappointing seasons to an end with a wide upon 2-2 draw to finish in 15th and 16th respectively. Medellin took a 2-0 lead with goals from Arboleda and Rancan. In the 64th minute Hilton Murillo Sanmartin pulled a goal back for the visitors, before well-travelled, Colombian international and former Middlesbrough striker, Hamilton Ricard, levelled from the penalty spot. The point meant that Quindio finished above their opponents, but both sides will be disappointed to have finished their seasons with a meaningless Saturday afternoon fixture.
Tolima hosted Envigado on Saturday evening, as they drew to a close a hugely successful season. Despite a disappointing 1-0 home defeat in their final fixture, the home side will be delighted to have finished the first round of the tournament 7 points clear at the top of the table. With an excellent attack, lead by prolific Paraguayan striker Robin Ramirez, and the toughest defence in the league, Tolima are the clear favourites to progress to the final.
With the formalities of Saturday done and dusted, the 11 teams who remained in contention for qualification got down to serious business on Sunday afternoon.
Itagui faced Huila in their final game of the season in the knowledge that a single point should confirm qualification, given their superior goal difference. The golden eagles made the perfect start, settling the home fans nerves as Alzate Correa pounced on a lose ball to edge Itagui ahead. Huila began the day with sufficient points to guarantee qualification, and the home sides solid defending ensured they finished in third position ahead of their visitors. Antioquia minnows Itagui have surprised many this year with their fast-paced counter attacking football and resolute defending.
Itagui's neighbours Atletico Nacional still had an outside chance to salvage a disastrous season. The Medellin giants brought in 11 new players ahead of their Copa Libertadores campaign. The deadly combination of midfield play-maker Macnelly Torres and Colombian international striker Dorlan Pabon drew widespread praise from many commentators and Los Verdes were considered a decent outside bet to win the competition. Domestic competitions took a back seat, and when Nacional parted ways with their manager hours before their elimination from the Copa Libertadores, their season slipped from promise to failure.
Nacional required a win and favourable results elsewhere if they were to qualify. They faced struggling Real Cartagena away in their final game of the season and all went to plan as Carlos Renteria gave the visitors the lead in the 23rd minute. However, Jhon Hernandez pulled the home side square on the 72nd minute and Nacional were unable to respond. Nacional will take time during their unwelcome extended break to regroup and prepare for the start of the Colombian Clasura in July, without the distraction of continental football.
Once Caldes finished off a disappointing season with a 2-2 draw against Junior, to extinguish December's champions fading hopes of qualification. Veteran playmaker Giovanny Hernandez finished an excellent season with a goal, while Colombian international Dayro Moreno also got his name on the score sheet.
Chico picked up the vital three points they needed against high-flying Santa Fe, with an excellent second half performance. The tie remained level at half time but Jeysen Nuñez pounced on a lose ball to header the Tujan club ahead in the 74th minute. The game was put beyond doubt 8 minutes later, as Edwin Movil clinically finished off the Bogota club from the penalty spot. Boyaca Chico finished in 7th on 27 points, while Bogota's Santa Fe hung on to second place despite their defeat.
After a season of mixed results, Deportivo Cali saved their best until last with a superb 3-0 victory over a strong Equidad side. Powerful Colombian striker Cristian Nazarith topped of a good season back in Colombia with a tidy volleyed finish in the 18th minute. Alvaro Dominguez then curled a perfectly placed freekick into the top corner on 35 minutes, before Jefferson Murillo powered home a lose ball to finish the rout. The win ensured Cali join their beaten opponents in the second round of the competition.
As with Atletico Nacional, newly promoted Patriotas still held an outside chance of qualification as they approached their final game against Bogota giants Millonarios. Despite the clinical finishing of talismanic striker Humberto Osorio, Millonarios found themselves well out of contention approaching their final game. Patriotas picked up the vital point they needed with an excellent 1-0 away win in the capital. The final whistle blew and the small contingent of away fans celebrated as it seemed they had done enough to secure miraculous final day qualification.
Pasto began the day within the qualifying positions, and they only required a point against Cucuta, who were adrift at the bottom of the table with nothing to play for and a goal difference of -23. Favourites Pasto took the lead toward the end of the first half and looked in control until Cucuta began a spirited second half come back. Luis Fernando Irarte pounced on a lose ball to draw the home side level, before Victor Uribe finished off an excellent passing move with a deft finish.
As the clock ticked into injury time Pasto's attacks become more desperate. Mauricio Mina Quintero chased a lofted clearance, and as he tussled with his marker he was able to find space to slide in a decisive equaliser from a tight angle. Pasto snatched qualification in the 92nd minute and as the news reached the travelling Patriotas fans joy, faded to despair.
Week 12 saw the top three all drop points, while Atletico Nacional picked up their first domestic league win in seven games with a narrow victory against Tunja minnows Patriotas.
Deportivo Cali began the weekends round of games with a 1-1 draw at home against Deportes Quindio. Hilton Murillo gave the visitors an early lead in the 13th minute minute, but the struggling Armenia club were were unable to hang to their lead in front of 21,000 fans at the Estadio Olimpico Pascuel Guerrero. Midfielder Alvaro Dominguez pulled Deportivo level in the 72nd minute to keep the Caleños in 7th place, while Quindio remain 17th.
On Saturday evening Antioquia rivals Independiente Medellin and Itagui Ditaires shared the points with a 1-1 draw. Visitors Medellin took the lead in the 12th minute through Jonathan Estrada, before the home side drew level with Efrain Viafara's 31st minute strike. Andres Ortiz's 70th minute dismissal put 'El Poderoso' on the back foot, but Itagui were unable to capitalise and the game finished all square.
Boyaca Chico picked up an excellent 5-2 win against bottom club Cucuta Deportivo. The first half finished a goal a piece, with goals from Correa and Nuñez. Luis Iriate raised the hopes for the handful of visiting Cucuta fans, but yet another defensive collapse by self proclaimed 'doblamente glorioso' saw the away side concede four in a disasterous 15 minute spell. Goals by Castro, Nuñez, Correa and Perlaza move Chico up into 14th position, while Cucuta remained routed to the foot of the table.
An excellent second half performance gave Junior a superb 3-1 win over high flying Atletico Huila at midday on Saturday. Veteran Colombian playmaker Giovanni Hernandez gave 'the sharks' the lead in the 27th minute, before Paraguayan striker Digno Gonzalez pulled the home side level 2 minutes later. The Barranquilla club came out for the second half in inspired form, and picked up the win with goals by Macias and Ruiz.
League leaders Tolima were denied 3 important points away against Millonarios in the capital on Sunday afternoon. Andres Andrade gave the table toppers the lead in the 60th minute, but Humberto Osorio was able snatch an 89th minute equalizer in front of 12,000 fans at El Campin. The point keeps Tolima top, while Millonarios stay within touch of the play-offs in 10th.
Millonarios gave La Equidad the opportunity to move to the top of the table, but the 'insurers' were unable to capitalise as they were beaten by Bogota rivals Santa Fe. Argentine midfielder Omar Perez scored the decisive goal in the 74th minute, to give the visitors the edge in a tight game. The 3 points means that Santa Fe move up into second, while La Equidad drop find themselves in forth on goal difference.
Elsewhere on Saturday Once Caldas were held 1-1 at home against Envigado, while Real Cartagena shared the points with Pasto in a game which ended with a goal each.
After a run of six games without a win in the league, Atletico Nacional finally picked up a vital three points with a narrow win home against minnows Patriotas. Dorlan Pabon scored the decisive goal from the penalty spot, in a disappointingly scrappy game. Both sides finished a player short, and 10 yellow cards were brandished by Harold Perilla. Nacional's inspired Copa Libertadores form, which has seen them qualify comfortably from a tough group, has been distinctly lacking in their league displays. The Medellin giants move up into 12th with their vital win, three points outisde the championship play-offs, while Patriotas remain a point ahead in 11th.