By Nelson Belen, Contributing Reporter
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – Last night, Wednesday, September 28th, Flamengo’s campaign in the 2016 Copa Sul-Americana came to a crashing halt with the club’s 2×1 loss to Chile’s Palestino football (soccer) club. Wednesday’s loss continued a string of disappointing losses for the Rubro-Negro this year, including early exits from both the Primeira Liga do Brasil and Copa do Brasil tournaments.
Entering Wednesday’s match at Kleber Andrade Stadium in Cariacica, Flamengo only needed a draw to advance in the Copa Sul-Americana, having already beaten Palestino 1×0 in Santiago, Chile, on September 21st.
Flamengo started the game aggressive, spending much of the first thirty minutes of the game on the attack. But, with the Chilean club digging in defensively for most of the first period, the Rubro-Negro were unable to capitalize.
At the 32 minute mark, a rare foray into Flamengo territory for Palestino, led to a foul and ensuing free kick from Palestino mid-fielder Leonardo Valencia. His shot hit the crossbar but an opportunistic Roberto Cereceda was able to knock in the rebound for the game’s first goal.
At 45 minutes, Palestino expanded its lead thanks to a quick counterattack, leading to a long goal from Valencia. Launching a shot from the edge of the penalty area, the Chilean caught Flamengo’s defense off guard, scoring past a futile dive from Flamengo keeper Alex Muralha.
It wasn’t until twenty minutes into the second period that Flamengo was finally able to get on the scoreboard when Pará was brought down in the penalty area resulting in Alan Patrick lining up for a penalty kick.
Patrick converted the penalty kick for the club’s first goal, keeping Flamengo’s slim hopes alive. But, it would be too little, too late, as Palestino was able to sit back defensively and hold on for the 2×1 victory.
Wednesday’s loss not only ended Flamengo’s run in the 2016 Copa Sul-Americana tournament, it also ended an unbeaten run of seven games for Flamengo at Kleber Andrade stadium. With the victory, Palestino became the first Chilean team ever to qualify in a South American competition after losing its first match at home.
Eliminated from yet another tournament this year, Flamengo now shifts its focus back to the 2016 Campeonato Brasileiro Série A (Brasileirão), where the club is in second place, only one point behind league leader Palmeiras.
Flamengo faces off against São Paulo on Saturday, October 1st, as the Brasileirão enters round 28.