Santa Fe have moved within a win of the Apertura final with a 2-1 triumph away to Once Caldas in a feisty game involving four red cards.
Both Santa Fe and Once Caldas had a player sent off during their semi-final stage clash but each side lost their goalkeeper to red cards as well, following an argument between the two players after the final whistle.
But despite the turbulent finish to the match, Santa Fe will have returned home from Manizales in a buoyant mood as they moved four points clear at the top of Group A in the semi-final stage of the Colombia Primera A Apertura, or first half, championship.
Santa Fe have moved up to 10 points with Deportivo Cali (six points), Millonarios (four) and Once Caldas (one) following in Group A with two games to go each.
Once Caldas took the lead on Wednesday in the 23rd minute when Cesar Arias collected a loose ball near the penalty area, after a team-mate was sent sprawling, stepped around an opponent and lifted his shot over Santa Fe’s onrushing goalkeeper.
But the visitors were back level eight minutes later with Carlos Valdes volleying Omar Perez’s corner into the net, while Santa Fe hit the front in the 34th minute thanks to Luis Murillo’s own goal.
The Once Caldas defender sliced Jhon Valencia’s chipped pass over his own goalkeeper as he came under pressure from a Santa Fe forward.
In a match full of scoring chances, the home side’s chances of a comeback were dealt a blow in the 58th minute when Murillo was shown a straight red card for hitting an opponent, while Santa Fe lost Marino Garcia for a second bookable offence with 19 minutes remaining.
Goalkeepers Jose Fernando Cuadrado (Once Caldas) and Camilo Vargas (Santa Fe) were sent off after the game was completed.
Santa Fe will wrap up a spot in the Apertura final if they overcome Millonarios in their next match.
Millonarios were held to a 1-1 draw by Deportivo Cali, while Atletico Nacional drew with Deportes Tolima in a Group B clash.
Deportes Tolima lead Group B on seven points, one ahead of Deportivo Pasto, while Atletico Nacional (four points) and Itagui (three) remain in the hunt for a finals berth.