SAO PAULO (AP) — Argentinian soccer giants River Plate and Boca Juniors are out of this season’s Copa Libertadores despite being favorites in their round-of-16 matches. Their exits hand the favored status to Brazilian teams, which have dominated the tournament in recent years and which again look strong to lift the title.
Only Brazilian and Argentinian teams will play the quarterfinals of the tournament, with two Brazilian and one Argentinian side already into the semifinals.
River was knocked out on Wednesday at the Monumental de Nunez Stadium after a goalless draw with local rival Velez Sarsfield, the winners of last week’s first leg 1-0. New Manchester City striker Julian Alvarez played his last match for the hosts, who protested a late goal annulled after video review.
Velez will take on another Argentinian team, Talleres, which won its tie against countrymen Colón 3-1 on aggregate. Earlier on Wednesday, Talleres beat its rival away 2-0, with goals by Federico Girotti in the 47th minute and Angelo Martino in added time.
Boca was eliminated on Tuesday by Brazil’s Corinthians at La Bombonera Stadium after two goalless encounters and a 6-5 defeat on penalties. Striker Dario Benedetto wasted two penalty shots for the hosts; one hit the post in the first half and the second, which could have been the shootout winner, was off goal and high.
Corinthians played both matches of the tie without most of its starting players, including former Chelsea winger Willian and former Shahktar Donetsk’s Maycon. Boca’s elimination against a team that had been crushed by injuries cost the job of coach Sebastián Battaglia.
Corinthians will play local rivals Flamengo in the quarterfinals.
Flamengo beat Colombia’s Tolima 7-1 at the Maracanã Stadium on Wednesday after winning away 1-0 last week. Striker Pedro netted four goals.
Flamengo could have Chilean midfielder Arturo Vidal for its quarterfinal. The 35-year-old Vidal, who has just left Inter Milan, was at the Maracanã Stadium to watch Flamengo’s win and said a contract agreement with the Rio de Janeiro club was close.
Defending champions Palmeiras cruised past Paraguay’s Cerro Porteño 5-0 without much effort after a 3-0 win away. Palmeiras will face defending Brazilian champion Atlético Mineiro, in a repeat of last season’s semifinal. Mineiro beat Ecuador’s Emelec 1-0 on Tuesday.
The only remaining match of the round of 16 will be played on Thursday, when Argentina’s Estudiantes de La Plata face Brazilian underdogs Fortaleza after their 1-1 draw last week.
The winner of the match will face Brazil’s Athletico, which knocked Paraguay’s Libertad out in the last minute on Tuesday after a 1-1 draw in Asuncion. The Brazilians, whose coach is World Cup winner Luiz Felipe Scolari, had won the first leg at home 2-1.
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