By Nelson Belen, Contributing Reporter
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – Last night (March 15th), Flamengo returned to action in the 2017 Copa Libertadores traveling to Las Condes, Chile to take on Universidad Católica in San Carlos de Apoquindo Stadium. It was a game of missed opportunities as, despite numerous scoring chances, Flamengo was held scoreless in a disappointing 1-0 shutout loss.
Entering Wednesday’s match, the Rubro-Negra had been red hot coming off a 4-0 thrashing of Argentina’s San Lorenzo in Week 1 of the Copa Libertadores last Wednesday (March 8th). The team followed that up with a 5-1 dismantling of Portuguesa RJ in the first round of the Taça Rio on Saturday (March 11th).
Despite nine goals in its last two games, Flamengo’s offense cooled off considerably on Wednesday. In the first period of yesterday’s battle, both teams failed to take advantage of early scoring opportunities. Solid saves from both keepers, Flamengo’s Alex Muralha and Universidad Católica’s Cristopher Toselli, kept the game scoreless going into the halftime break.
It was more of the same for most of the second period, until the 75-minute mark. An incredulous takedown that led to a Diego yellow card gave Universidad Católica a great scoring chance that they would cash in on. A beautiful corner kick found Santiago Silva, who rose above the fray, to knock in the header for the game’s first goal.
The game soon slipped away from Flamengo when attacker Berrío was ejected from the game after a shoving a Universidad Católica player to the ground. After three minutes of stoppage time, Universidad Católica was able to hold off a frantic Flamengo for the 1-0 victory.
With Wednesday’s loss, Flamengo drops to third place in Group 4 of the Copa Libertadores, behind Universidad Católica and fellow Brazilian club Atlético Paranaense.
This is the 58th edition of the Copa Libertadores, considered the premier club football (soccer) tournament in South America. With eight clubs in this year’s tournament, Brazil has the most teams participating, with Argentina close behind with six clubs.
Flamengo now turns its attention back to the Campeonato Carioca and the Taça Rio. The Rubro-Negra take on Resende in Volta Redonda on Saturday, March 18th.