SAO PAULO (AP) — Athetico will play the Copa Libertadores final in what could be the last decider in the career of Brazil’s 73-year-old World Cup-winning coach Luiz Felipe Scolari.
The club from the southern Brazil city of Curitiba knocked out defending champion Palmeiras on Tuesday after a 2-2 draw in Sao Paulo.
Athletico, which won the first leg last week 1-0, will likely play another Brazilian team in the final, which would make it the third consecutive all-Brazil decider in the continental club championship.
Flamengo takes a 4-0 lead into Wednesday’s home match against Argentina’s Velez Sarsfield in Rio de Janeiro.
Palmeiras, the Copa Libertadores champion in the two previous editions, opened the scoring with Gustavo Scarpa’s 3rd-minute goal and made it 2-0 in the 55th despite having lost defender Murilo to a red card before halftime.
Athletico then regrouped with two substitutions by Scolari, who was not allowed in the touchline after being sent off in the first leg. Pablo netted the first in the 64th and David Terans equalized with a deflected shot from outside the box in the 85th.
Veteran midfielder Fernandinho, who joined in the middle of the South American season after a long career at Manchester City, also played in the previous final Athletico reached in 2005. Sao Paulo came out as winners then, after a 5-1 aggregate victory.
“This means a lot to me. I will play this final much better than the first one. We deserved this,” an exhausted Fernandinho told journalists after the match.
The final is scheduled for Oct.29 at Guayaquil, Ecuador.
Scolari, who has two Copa Libertadores titles, will be involved in his fourth final. In recent weeks he has hinted this could be the last year of his career as coach.
Also known as Big Phil, Scolari took Brazil to a World Cup title in 2002 but also oversaw a home debacle in 2014 that included a 7-1 semifinal defeat to Germany. Scolari also took Portugal to a Euro final in 2004 and the semifinals of the 2006 World Cup.
Palmeiras coach Abel Ferreira, who played for Portugal when Scolari was coach, said in a press conference the veteran Brazilian is a role model for him and many of his colleagues.
“I want him to enjoy (playing the final) and think well about what he wants to do,” said Ferreira, who added that he feels love and gratitude for Scolari. “It will be an honor to continue facing him.”
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