Don’t cry for me Brazil: River Plate, Argentinos Juniors out of Copa Libertadores

The first day of action saw Brazilian sides Internacional and Fluminense go through to the quarterfinals

Two Argentine teams went to Brazil to get their spots in the Copa Libertadores quarter-finals and both came up short. River Plate and Argentinos Juniors visited Internacional of Porto Alegre and Fluminense of Rio de Janeiro respectively, but were unable to qualify.

River Plate had the easiest job of the two. Having won its first leg game 2-1 in Buenos Aires, the team led by Martín Demichelis only needed a draw. However, the Millonarios were quickly on the back foot, failing to dominate the game as it had in the first leg.

Still, Inter didn’t get ahead until the second half, with former River Plate player Gabriel Mercado scoring in the 70th minute. Just eight minutes later, midfielder Alan Patrick made it 2-0. That would’ve been the end for River, but in the dying embers of the game, defender Robert Rojas scored from a corner to tie the series and send it to a penalty shootout. 

With both teams comfortably scoring their shots, River first came close to elimination when a penalty by midfielder Pablo Solari was deemed unlawful due to him slipping and touching the ball twice. However, a miss by Internacional midfielder Carlos de Pena saved them, after which the referee ordered them to switch goals due to the state of the penalty spot. 

In the end, last-minute hero Robert Rojas missed his kick. This allowed goalkeeper Sergio Rochet, whose heroics had kept Internacional close in the first leg, to score and send River Plate out of the Copa Libertadores. Now Internacional will face Bolivian side Bolivar, who beat Athletico Paranaense, also on penalties.

Earlier in the day, Argentinos Juniors had a tough task as it went against one of the best teams in Brazilian football, Fluminense, at the mythical Maracanã Stadium. Moods had been heated in the build-up to the game, as 10 Fluminense fans attacked an Argentinos fan on the beach.

The Bichitos Colorados were the superior side in the first leg, but lost focus after a shocking injury to defender Luciano Sánchez and conceded a late tie. Therefore, the side led by Gabriel Milito needed to win to get through to the quarter-finals.

Argentinos proved more than a match for the occasion, creating some goal-scoring chances, but Fluminense slowly gained control of the game. The Brazilian side finally got ahead in the 86th minute when defender Samuel scored after a scruffy play in the box.

Drama ensued as Milito was sent off following a scramble as he protested to the referee, arguing midfielder André Trindade should’ve been sent off following a hard tackle on Thiago Nuss. In the stands, angry Argentinos fans were repressed by Brazilian police, who hit them and fired rubber bullets.

In the last minute of the game, a counter goal by winger John Kennedy sealed the game for Fluminense, who will face the winner of the series between Colombia’s Deportivo Pereira and Ecuador’s Independiente del Valle.


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