Monday, September 5, 2016

5 September 2009 - Anywhere Else, This Might Have Been Surprising

On 5 September 2009, Colombia's win over Ecuador turned tragic when a grenade exploded during the post-match celebrations, killing one person and injuring at least 30 others. 

The two teams met at the Estadio Atanasio Girardot in Medellín for a World Cup qualifier. Playing before a crowd of 42,000, the match was deadlocked for the first 82 minutes until substitute Colombian striker Jackson Martínez (pictured) scored his first goal for the national team. Martínez played his club ball for Medellín and his goal sent the home supporters into a frenzy. Their excitement grew when striker Teófilo Gutiérrez added a second goal in the fourth minute of stoppage time to seal the victory. 

As joyous Colombian supporters celebrated the win through the streets of Medellín, the grenade exploded in one of the central plazas, the Parque San Antonio. In addition to the lone fatality, three others were seriously wounded, while the remaining injuries were not life-threatening. Although the Parque San Antonio had been the site of a 1995 terrorist attack that killed 23 people, police believed that the 2009 explosion was unrelated. Instead, they suspected that one of the celebrating supporters mishandled the grenade, setting it off accidentally. 

Colombia proceeded to split their last two qualification matches, losing to Chile and winning against Paraguay, to finish just outside the region's World Cup slots. 

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