September 29 – Flamengo are on the brink of reaching the Copa Libertadores final for a second time in three years after a comprehensive 2-0 first-leg semi-final win against Ecuador’s Barcelona, courtesy of a Bruno Henrique brace.
Henrique spearheaded Flamengo’s powerful attacking quartet of Everton Ribeiro, Vitinho, Gabigol and the number 27 to score twice before half-time, allowing the Rio giants to dream once more of a final victory in South America’s premier club competition.
On the stroke of half-time, Barcelona were reduced to ten men when Nixon Molina was shown a second yellow card for a challenge on Everton Ribeiro. The hosts also finished the match with a man down after substitute Leo Pereira was sent off for elbowing Luis Leon.
“Barcelona is a well-trained team that has a lot of strength,” reflected Flamengo coach Renato Gaucho. “They didn’t get to the Libertadores semi-final with a free pass, they got here by merit. They opened up looking for a goal, they had opportunities, and Diego had a great performance. Over there, it will be another game, they will leave space. Our advantage is big, two goals.”
Flamengo have won the Copa Libertadores twice and with their first-leg victory have all but set up an all-Brazilian final again.
Last year, Palmeiras edged Santos in the showpiece match to win the competition, but on Tuesday the defending champions were held to a 0-0 draw away to Brazilian rivals Atletico Mineiro in Belo Horizonte.
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