Independiente del Valle continued its Cinderella run at the Copa Libertadores tournament, beating its Argentine rival Boca Juniors 2 to 1 in the opening leg of semi-final action.
Copa Libertadores is the most prestigious club tournament in South America. This is the first time Independiente del Valle has reached the semi-final round.
The Ecuadorean team has consistently surprised at this year's tournament, transforming themselves into the darling of their home country.
“We don't only represent Independiente, we represent a country and that is a very big responsibility. We are working to reach the final and we're on our way,” said midfielder Junior Sornoza ahead of the game.
The team has even won over Ecuadorean President Rafael Correa, who is an ardent supporter of Emelec, a rival club.
Part of the support given by Ecuador to Independiente del Valle comes from the efforts by the club to help the country recover from a massive earthquake in April of this year.
Independiente del Valle has donated the proceeds from ticket sales during the tournament to those affected by the quake, so far giving over US$341,000 to the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).
"We have decided to donate this contribution to UNDP for its extensive experience in the recovery process," said Michel Deller, Independent del Valle vice-president, during a press conference Monday.
The UNDP said in statement that the money would go toward training programs in quake-affected areas.
Independiente del Valle announced that they would continue donating box office incomes from all future games in the Copa Libertadores tournament.
The Ecuadorean team will play the away leg against Boca Juniors on Thursday at La Bombonera stadium in Buenos Aires. Independiente del Valle needs a tie or a win to move on the final.
The winner will play either Sao Paulo or Atletico Nacional in the final.