By Nelson Belen, Contributing Reporter
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – Late last night (Wednesday, August 9th) at Ilha do Urubu Stadium, under the helm of the new interim coach, Jayme de Almeida, Flamengo dismantled Chile’s Palestino 5-0 in the back leg of a two-game series in the Second stage of the 2017 Copa Sudamericana.
The match was the first for the Rubro-Negra since Zé Ricardo resigned as head coach following a stunning 2-0 home loss to Vitória on Sunday, August 6th. Flamengo had been struggling mightily of late, winning only one of their last eight matches.
Despite their struggles, the club entered last night’s second match against Palestino with a huge advantage after having dominated the Chileans 5-2 in the first game in Chile on July 5th.
And last night, the Rubro-Negra picked up right where they left off in Chile, opening the scoring at the four-minute mark off the foot of Felipe Vizeu for the quick 1-0 lead. Flamengo doubled its lead only five minutes later when a twisting pass from Éverton led to a diving header from Geuvânio and the rout was on.
At the 41st minute, Éverton Ribeiro added a goal of his own and, only three minutes later, Willian Arão joined in with a header for the 4-0 lead at halftime.
Combined with the first game’s 5-2 final, a 4-0 deficit for Palestino was insurmountable. With the thousands of Flamengo fans celebrating the inevitable victory in the second half, all that was left was the closing whistle confirming the win.
But, not before the youngster, Vinícius Júnior, would add one more goal, his first as a professional, to cement the 5-0 victory.
Flamengo will now move on to the Round of 16 in the Copa Sudamericana to take on defending tournament champions, Chapecoense, later this month.
Last December, tournament organizers, CONMEBOL, awarded the 2016 championship to Chapecoense after the tragic plane crash on November 28th that killed most of the team as they were traveling to play in the finals against Atlético Nacional in Columbia.
The Copa Sudamericana features 54 South American football (soccer) teams, 44 who enter the tournament directly, plus an additional 10 transfer teams eliminated from the Copa Libertadores. The Copa Sudamericana starts in February and goes until a champion is crowned in December.
In the next stage, the Round of 16, rather than play home-away games, the tournament switches to a knockout style with teams playing single-elimination games to advance to the Quarterfinals.
The winner of the 2017 Copa Sudamericana automatically qualifies for the 2018 Copa Libertadores.