Brazil has 3 teams in Copa Libertadores semifinals
SAO PAULO (AP) — Brazilian teams are once again dominating the Copa Libertadores and have secured three spots in this year’s semifinals of South America’s top club soccer competition.
Defending champions Palmeiras will take on Athletico, led by their former coach Luiz Felipe Scolari, a World Cup winner as coach with Brazil in 2002. Last year’s runner-up Flamengo will face Argentina’s Velez Sarsfield, which reached the last four after eliminating Talleres.
At least one Brazilian team will be at the Oct. 29 final in Guayaquil, Ecuador, but the chance of another all-Brazil affair is high due to Flamengo’s high favoritism in its semifinal.
Palmeiras reached the semis after beating local rivals Atletico Mineiro on penalties on Wednesday after a goalless draw at home. The first leg in Belo Horizonte last week ended 2-2, with Palmeiras coming back from a 2-0 deficit.
The Palmeiras versus Athletico semifinal will have an emotional component for both sides. Scolari was the coach of the defending Copa Libertadores champions for their first title in the tournament in 1999.
Flamengo beat Corinthians 3-0 on aggregate. The Rio de Janeiro giant, which is negotiating with former Chelsea midfielder Oscar to join for the next round, won the second leg 1-0 at the Maracana Stadium on Tuesday with a goal by striker Pedro in the 52nd minute.
Athletico needed the last moments of their second leg against Estudiantes de La Plata on Thursday to score the only and winning goal of its tie. Vitor Roque, who is 17, scored the decider with a close-range header.
Argentina’s Velez beat Talleres in both legs to secure its place among the last four with a 4-2 aggregate win. It beat its rival away on Wednesday with a goal by Julian Fernandez in the 79th minute.
The Copa Sudamericana, the second most prestigious tournament in the region, will feature a Brazilian finalist against Peru’s Melgar or Ecuador’s Independiente Del Valle, the winners of the tournament in 2019.
The 2012 champion Sao Paulo side beat countrymen of Ceará on penalties on Wednesday after a 2-2 aggregate result, while Atletico Goianiense beat Luis Suarez’s Nacional of Uruguay 3-0 at home, adding to its 1-0 win in Montevideo in the first leg.
Del Valle advanced with a 5-1 victory on aggregate against Venezuela’s Deportivo Tachira. Melgar eliminated Brazil’s Internacional on penalties on Thursday after two goalless matches.
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