SAO PAULO (AP) — The Copa Libertadores final is set to be an all-Brazilian affair for the third year in a row after this week’s first leg of the semifinals.
Flamengo crushed Argentina’s Velez Sarsfield away 4-0 on Wednesday. Striker Pedro scored in the 32nd, 61st and 83rd minutes. Everton Ribeiro also netted for the Rio de Janeiro club in the last minute of the first half.
Palmeiras lost 1-0 to Athletico Paranaense but the defending champions are still the favorite to advance for a likely rematch of last year’s final on Oct. 29 in Guayaquil, Ecuador.
Athletico’s hard-fought win came thanks to a goal by Alex Santana in the 23rd minute. It was Palmeiras’ first defeat in this year’s edition of the Copa Libertadores.
The second legs will be played next week.
Palmeiras beat Flamengo 2-1 in last year’s decider. In the previous edition, the Sao Paulo team beat its local rival Santos 1-0 at the Maracana Stadium.
Since Argentina’s River Plate won the Copa Libertadores in 2018, only Brazilian teams have captured the most prestigious club tournament in South America. Flamengo beat River in 2019 in the latest final with a non-Brazilian team playing the decider.
One Brazilian team will surely be at the Copa Sudamericana final, too. Sao Paulo will face Atletico Goianiense on Thursday. On the other side of the bracket, Ecuador’s Independiente del Valle beat Peru’s Melgar 3-0 in their first leg on Wednesday.
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