Fluminense stun Internacional to reach Copa Libertadores final

Fluminense stun Internacional to reach Copa Libertadores final
Fluminense stun Internacional to reach Copa Libertadores final

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Jeddah - Yasmine El Tohamy - PORTO ALEGRE: German Cano scored a late winner as Fluminense staged a dramatic fightback to beat Internacional 2-1 and reach the final of the Copa Libertadores on Wednesday.

Cano — the two-goal hero of the first leg — swept home an 87th-minute strike just six minutes after John Kennedy’s equalizer as Fluminense completed a 4-3 aggregate victory in the all-Brazilian clash.

Fluminense will face either Argentina’s Boca Juniors or another Brazilian club, Palmeiras, in the Nov. 4 final at the Maracana Stadium in Rio de Janeiro.

Fluminense have never won the Copa Libertadores and for long periods of Wednesday’s second leg in Porto Alegre it looked as if their frustrating record of disappointment was set to continue.

Internacional dominated the early exchanges and were handed a dream start when Gabriel Mercado headed home Alan Patrick’s corner to put the home side 1-0 up, 3-2 ahead on aggregate, after just 10 minutes.

With a raucous 44,000 home crowd roaring them on at the Estadio Beira-Rio, Internacional were quick to take control against a hesitant Fluminense team.

Fluminense goalkeeper Fabio, who had been at fault for the opening goal, partially redeemed himself for that blunder with a good save from Mauricio on 15 minutes.

Patrick should have done better with a glorious chance on 22 minutes, surging toward goal with time and space, only to pull his shot well wide.

Despite enjoying plenty of possession, Fluminense barely created any chance of note for long periods thereafter.

Internacional, however, were left ruing a trio of gilt-edged opportunities that fell to striker Enner Valencia in the second half.

The Ecuador international almost put the tie to bed in the 68th minute after a clever turn near halfway sent him racing away on goal. But the Internacional forward took one touch too many, allowing Fluminense to clear.

Valencia squandered another glorious opening two minutes later, somehow heading high and wide after being picked out by another pinpoint Patrick free-kick.

The best chance of all came on 78 minutes when Valencia streaked clean through. But with only Fabio to beat, the Inter forward pulled his shot wide.

Those missed chances effectively threw a lifeline to Fluminense, and three minutes later the Rio club grabbed it to draw level.

Substitute John Kennedy sprang the offside trap to dink in a superb equalizer to silence the home crowd.

Six minutes later, Fluminense snatched a second, when Arias crossed low from the right. Kennedy helped the ball on with a sublime flick into the path of Cano who made no mistake with an emphatic finish into the bottom corner.

Internacional pushed for an equalizer but a brilliant diving save from Fabio kept out a goal-bound Luiz Adriano header as Fluminense hung on for the win.

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