By Robbie Blakeley, Senior Contributing Reporter
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – Fluminense guaranteed top spot in their Libertadores group and the entire competition after the sixth and final round of matches. Flu beat Arsenal de Sarandí, of Argentina, 2-1 with a Rafael Moura goal in the 92nd minute.
The win ensured Fluminense will play the second leg of all knock-out ties at home, in Rio’s Engenhão stadium, a crucial advantage as the tournament is whittled down to its final sixteen competitors.
With fifteen points from their six games, the Tricolor also enjoyed the best campaign of any team in the competition and as a result will play against the team with the poorest record who managed to qualify.
The one worry for Flu is the injury to Wellington Nem, who felt a strain in his right thigh and had to leave play in the first-half. His replacement, Rafael Sóbis, subsequently put Carlinhos through on goal to give Flu the lead.
The Cariocas were playing with an ease which caused Arsenal to jolt back into action. Twice Cavalieri was called into action before Nicolás Aguirre equalized for the Argentines. In the dying moments Thiago Neves, after being tripped, had the chance to put Flu back in front from the penalty spot.
But Neves fluffed his lines only for a saving grace in the 92nd minute of the game. Teenager Lanzini whipped in a cross and Rafael Moura headed his first goal of the competition to send Flu flying into the knock-outs.
Meanwhile, Botafogo qualified for the next round of the Copa do Brasil after a 2-1 aggregate win over Paulista club Guarani. After victory in São Paulo last week, a 0-0 draw in Rio was enough to see them through yesterday.
Read more (in Portuguese).
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