Thu, 22 Oct 2020

RIO DE JANEIRO, Sept. 30 (Xinhua) -- Substitute Bruno Henrique scored twice as Brazil's Flamengo beat Ecuadorian side Independiente del Valle 4-0 in their Copa Libertadores Group A match on Wednesday.

The result at Rio de Janeiro's Maracana stadium, which came less than two weeks after Independiente whitewashed Flamengo 5-0 in Quito, guarantees the defending champions a place in the knockout phase.

Lincoln put the hosts ahead with a low strike after a counter-attack in the 26th minute and Fiorentina loanee Pedro capitalized on Gabriel Barbosa's unselfish slide-rule pass to double the lead on the half-hour mark.

Barbosa was forced off with an ankle injury at half-time, and his replacement Henrique took his chance by netting twice in the space of 20 minutes.

First, the Brazil international forward thumped in a close-range effort after Giorgian de Arrascaeta's attempt was parried clear by Jorge Pinos. Then, he ran onto Arrascaeta's superb one-touch pass and rounded Pinos before calmly caressing a shot into an empty net from the edge of the penalty area.

The victory ended a tumultuous two-week period for Flamengo. Following the defeat in Quito, the Rio outfit reported 16 COVID-19 cases in their squad, leaving them with only three regular first-team players for their Brazilian Serie A visit to Palmeiras last Sunday, which ended in a 1-1 draw.

Several of those who tested positive for the virus have since recovered and Flamengo were able to begin Wednesday's match with seven of their usual starters.

The result at the Maracana stadium lifted Flamengo to the top of their group with 12 points from five matches, three points ahead of second-placed Independiente.

In other fixtures on Wednesday, River Plate won 2-1 at home to Sao Paulo, Palmeiras routed Bolivar 5-0 in Sao Paulo, Independiente Medellin won 2-0 in Caracas, Racing beat Nacional 2-1 in Montevideo, Estudiantes drew 2-2 at Alianza Lima and Barcelona SC won 2-0 at Junior Barranquilla.

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