Flamengo suffers a debacle in the Libertadores, succumbs to a comeback defeat against Olimpia in the round of 16, and bids farewell to the elusive consecutive championship.
Photo: EFE/ Daniel Piris
First leg: Flamengo 1×0 Olimpia
At Maracanã Stadium, facing Olimpia’s staunch defense, Flamengo encountered difficulties, yet remained unfazed. In the first leg of the Libertadores round of 16, the Red-and-Black persisted and clinched a hard-fought 1-0 victory. With the stadium packed to capacity, the home team exercised substantial ball possession and dominated the attack, although struggling to breach the Paraguayan defense.
In a highly physical and contested match, Flamengo posed threats through long-range shots. First with Ayrton Lucas, who, at the 21st minute, took a shot from the left side, but the ball sailed over the bar. Later, at the 43rd minute, Gerson had a go after a deft pass from Wesley, setting up the midfielder on the right, who struck a powerful left-footed shot. The ball deflected on its way, but Espínola managed to stretch and palm it away for a corner.
At the 45th minute, Olimpia squandered an incredible opportunity as Fernández delivered a corner and Ortiz headed it into the six-yard box. González found himself unmarked and sent a thunderous first-time strike that rattled the crossbar.
The lone goal of the match came in the 48th minute of the second half. Flamengo resorted to a classic strategy: a cross from Gabigol and a finish by Bruno Henrique, rising above the defenders to the delight of the Red-and-Black faithful.
Flamengo came close to extending their lead through an aerial play. At the 66th minute, Everton Ribeiro floated in a teasing cross from a rehearsed free-kick routine. David Luiz outjumped the defenders and headed powerfully, only to witness Olimpia’s goalkeeper once again push the ball away.
The victory by a mere one-goal margin in front of their Maracanã crowd would prove costly for the return leg at Maracanã Stadium.
Photo: MAURO PIMENTEL / AFP
Second leg: Olimpia 3×1 Flamengo
In a thrilling match, Flamengo conceded 3 aerial goals and bid farewell to the Copa Libertadores.
Despite the elimination, Bruno Henrique stood out in the round of 16 and made two darting runs down the left. In the second of these, he forced Ortiz to commit a foul and receive a yellow card. Flamengo opened the scoring in the 7th minute. Arrascaeta delivered a mid-height cross, and the forward deftly redirected the ball into the back of the net.
The Paraguayan response came just a few minutes later. In the 11th minute, Ortiz executed a splendid long pass to Cardozo, who dribbled past Filipe Luís and sent a cross into the area for Ivan Torres. Rising above Fabrício Bruno’s defense, Torres headed home to level the score.
At the 30th minute, Flamengo found the net again, but their goal was disallowed due to Bruno Henrique’s offside position. Arrascaeta played a pass to the number 27 (offside), who found himself one-on-one with the goalkeeper and then set up Gabriel for an easy finish. However, the linesman signaled the infraction on the field.
In the 51st minute of the second half, coach Jorge Sampaoli was sent off. After receiving a yellow card in the first half, he was shown a red card for persistently disputing decisions with the referee, further frustrating Roldán and his team.
Olimpia’s comeback occurred in the 68th minute. A corner taken by Zabala found the diminutive Ortiz, standing at 1.74m, who didn’t even need to jump as his header sent the Defensores del Chaco crowd into a frenzy. Matheus Cunha reacted slowly and was highly ineffective in defending the play.
Olimpia’s third goal also came from a header, again originating from Zabala’s corner. This time, center-forward Bruera rose above the defense and directed his header into the back of the net. With this scoreline, the Paraguayan side secured their qualification within regular time.
Lastly, Flamengo attempted a late surge to equalize the aggregate score, during injury time. Ayrton Lucas played a ball into the middle of the area amid Olimpia’s defenders. Gabigol, positioned in an offside position, tried to direct a shot towards the goal, and then Victor Hugo pushed the ball into the net. However, after a wait of four minutes, VAR overturned the decision due to Gabigol’s offside, leaving Brazilian fans frustrated just moments before the final whistle.
Written by Henry Miller.