“Today I feel robbed,” were the words of Sebastián Beccacece in his post-match press conference following Racing Club’s 1-1 draw with Flamengo in their Copa Libertadores last 16 first leg. A highly contentious disallowed goal denied La Academia a second goal during a closely contested battle in the driving rain and now leaves champions Flamengo slight favourites ahead of next week’s second leg.
A bright start saw Racing lead in Avellaneda when Fabricio Domínguez charged down the right and his low cross was turned past Diego Alves by Héctor Fértoli at the near post.
But the lead lasted only a matter of minutes. The ever dangerous Bruno Henrique escaped in behind Racing’s defence and his outside of the boot cross left Gabriel Barbosa with the simplest of finishes.
From that point the two teams went back and forth with Bruno Henrique coming closest to adding a second with a sensational strike that hit the crossbar.
Yet the lack of further goals didn’t mean a lack of excitement and Racing will feel they did enough during the second half to take an advantage to Brazil next week. Lisandro López thought he had headed the home side back in front only for a soft foul against Eugenio Mena before crossing to deny him and although both sides also had goals correctly ruled out for tight offside calls it was the López goal that really stung.
A foul on the Racing captain eventually saw a VAR review send off Matheus Thuler but Flamengo held on for a valuable draw.
Racing Club 1 – 1 Flamengo
Earlier in Coritiba, River Plate also earned a first leg draw but needed a last minute Paulo Díaz goal to deny Athletico Paranaense.
Far from their best River toiled in front of goal and against an Athletico side who have had an upturn in form at just the right time it almost cost Marcelo Gallardo’s side dearly.
There were chances for the visitors but the final pass or the finish was usually lacking and despite being the better side it was Athletico who led shortly after half time. Bissoli was given far too much space on the edge of the box and the substitute controlled the ball before spinning and rifling the ball into the bottom corner.
Midfielder Reinaldo being shown a second yellow card soon after gave River an opportunity and after twice going close at corners, Díaz rose in the 90th minute to head past reserve keeper Bento.
With the vital away goal River will be confident of finishing the job in Avellaneda next week but Athletico will hope to have players back for the trip after a number of positive Covid-19 cases and will have seen the weaknesses in River that are there to exploit.
Athletico Paranaense 1 – 1 River Plate