Flamengo, champion of the Copa Libertadores, beat Independiente del Valle 4-0 this Wednesday with a double from Bruno Henrique, took the lead in Group A and qualified for the round of 16 a day early.
Despite playing with a team full of substitutes and youth to replace the 19 who tested positive for COVID-19 after the excursion he made last week to Ecuador, the Rio de Janeiro club was the broad dominator of the match played at the Maracanã and he avenged the humiliating defeat suffered two weeks ago in Quito.
During his visit to the Ecuadorian team led by the Spanish coach Miguel Ángel Ramírez for the third day of the Libertadores, the Brazilian champion, under the command of also Spanish Domènec Torrent, fell 5-0, the worst result in his history in the competition continental.
With the victory of this Wednesday and with a match to go, Flamengo displaced the Independiente from the leadership of Group A and, with 12 points, opened a three-point lead over his rival today, the only one who can snatch his position, and unreachable six units over Colombian Junior and nine over Ecuadorian Barcelona, already eliminated despite their victory this Wednesday.
Despite the fact that ten of the 19 infected with COVID-19 have already recovered and were enabled to play, including the Chilean side Mauricio Isla and the international Filipe Luis and Diego, the coach in charge of Flamengo, Jordi Guerrero, who took over on the spot del also infected with coronavirus Torrent, preferred to start with those who had been playing.
The Rio de Janeiro club, which played with three forwards, started under pressure from the first minute and in less than five minutes both Pedro and Gabriel Barbosa ‘Gabigol’, Libertadores scorer last year, had several opportunities to open the scoring.
Independiente only had his first attack at 5 minutes but was wasted by the Panamanian Gabriel Torres, top scorer in the Ecuadorian League.
With the Ecuadorians pending the trio of attackers, both the Uruguayan Giorgian de Arrascaeta and the midfielder Gerson became attacking alternatives for Flamengo and also generated several scoring opportunities.
The pressure finally paid off in the 26th minute when Lincoln, after receiving a lift from Matheuzinho from the right, opened the scoring at Maracana.
Four minutes later Pedro widened the difference after receiving a pass from Gabigol inside the Ecuadorian area.
Flamengo lost their scorer at the end of the first half after a misstep caused an ankle injury for Gabigol, who was replaced by Bruno Henrique.
The replacement was precisely the author of Flamengo’s third goal, 6 minutes into the second half, after finishing off a play starring De Arrascaeta and that Pinos rejected.
The Uruguayan, who more than fulfilled his mission of supplying the trio of strikers, almost scored his at 16 in the second half but Pinos managed to save his goal spectacularly.
When Flamengo began to replace his players already thinking about the Brazilian Championship and seemed to slow down, Bruno Henrique, again after a play by De Arrascaeta, scored the fourth for the locals after dribbling the goalkeeper Pinos.
Independiente almost got the honor 5 minutes from the end but Segovia’s score was canceled out of place.
On the last day, Flamengo will have to visit Júnior in Barranquilla but, having qualified, the result does not worry him.