Fluminense, River Plate reach Copa Libertadores last 16

2021-05-26 03:05:52 GMT2021-05-26 11:05:52(Beijing Time) Xinhua English

BUENOS AIRES, May 25 (Xinhua) -- Brazil's Fluminense advanced to the Copa Libertadores knockout phase as leaders of Group D with a 3-1 win at River Plate on Tuesday.

Caio Paulista and Nene struck first-half goals for the visitors, whose cause was aided by Jonatan Maidana's 67th-minute red card for violent conduct.

Substitute Federico Girotti gave the Argentine giants a glimmer of hope with an 85th-minute strike but Yago Felipe put the result beyond doubt by scoring Fluminense's third goal in the second minute of stoppage time.

The result meant the Rio de Janeiro side finished on 11 points, two points ahead of River Plate, who also qualified for the last 16 after Junior Barranquilla drew 0-0 with their Colombian rivals Santa Fe.

"I think the two best teams [in Group D] made it through," said veteran Fluminense striker Fred, who provided the assists for Caio and Nene.

"We knew it would be tough here and we have great respect for River. They've been through a lot," the former Brazil striker added, alluding to the coronavirus outbreak that has swept through the Buenos Aires club in the past two weeks.

River beat Santa Fe 2-1 in Buenos Aires last Wednesday despite starting with nobody on the bench and midfielder Enzo Perez in goal after 20 of the club's players - including all four first-team goalkeepers - tested positive for the virus.

They welcomed back several players on Tuesday but were still without seven regular first-team members.

"It's been difficult to deal with everything that has happened in the past few weeks," River Plate manager Marcelo Gallardo said. "We've been without many of our players and worried about their health while having to compete in important matches. We've been decimated but we've done just enough to get through."

In other Copa Libertadores matches on Tuesday, Racing Club won 3-0 at home to Rentistas, Sao Paulo secured a 3-0 home win over Sporting Cristal, hosts Cerro Porteno beat America de Cali 1-0 and Atletico Mineiro romped to a 4-0 home victory over Deportivo La Guaira. Enditem