By Nelson Belen, Contributing Reporter
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – In a thrilling matchup last night, November 1st, at iconic Maracanã Stadium, Flamengo came roaring back from a late 3-1 hole to draw 3-3 with archrivals Fluminense sending the Rubro-Negra into the Copa Sudamericana semi-finals on aggregate goals.
Just two minutes into the game, Fluminense sent their fans into a frenzy. Lucas came streaking down the far side and launched a rocket just past the outstretched arms of Diego Alves to give Fluminense the early 1-0 lead.
At the nine-minute mark, it would be the Nação Rubro-Negra‘s turn to celebrate as Diego let loose a picture-perfect free kick goal to tie the game at 1-1.
Flu would answer at the 42nd minute when Renato Chaves head in a corner to give the club the 2-1 lead at the break.
In the second period, Chaves would strike again with another header ten minutes into the half to give Fluminense the seemingly comfortable 3-1 lead.
Flamengo would start their comeback at the 22nd minute of the second. Felipe Vizeu beat Flu keeper Diego Cavalieri in a foot race to the ball allowing Vizeu to easily knock it past the prone keeper to make it a 3-2 game (3-3 on aggregate, but Flu still ahead on ‘away’ goals).
As the game was winding down, Willian Arão would complete the Flamengo comeback at the 38-minute mark with a header that bounded past Cavalieri to tie the game at 3-3 and put the club ahead 4-3 on aggregate.
With the closing whistle, Maracanã erupted as Nação Rubro-Negra cheered the club’s furious comeback.
Flamengo now advances to the Copa Sudamericana semi-finals in late November to face the winner of the quarter-final matchup between fellow Brazilian club, Sport Recife and Columbia’s Junior FC.
Sport Recife and Junior will face off in the second leg of their quarterfinal matchup tonight (November 2nd). The Brazilian club will have a tough hill to climb after having lost the first leg 2-0.
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.
The winner of the 2017 Copa Sudamericana automatically qualifies for the 2018 Copa Libertadores.