Copa Libertadores

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Chapecoense nets dramatic late goal to qualify for Copa Libertadores

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The roster was tragically much different, but the spirit very much the same as Chapecoense clinched a return to the Copa Libertadores.

It’s been just over a year since a plane carrying the Chapecoense team to the first leg of the Copa Sudamericana final crashed, killing all but six of 77 passengers.

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Chapecoense was awarded the Copa Sudamericana title in a gesture of respect from Atletico Nacional, and turned down a “can’t be relegated” offer from the clubs in its league.

Now, one year later, with a scrappy band of loanees and free agents, manager Gilson Kleina has led Chape back to the Copa Libertadores.

The stoppage time winner cued celebrations (and actually saved another club from relegation!).

River Plate blames VAR for falling in Copa Libertadores semifinal

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Video replay is being used more and more in global soccer, and it’s not necessarily for the better, according to some teams.

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Argentine giants River Plate shared that thought on Tuesday night when the club was eliminated in the Copa Libertadores semifinals by Lanus — 4-3 on aggregate — after a pair of questionable decisions cost Marcelo Gallardo’s squad a spot in the final.

“This defeat is difficult to digest,” Gallardo told reporters. “It was a clear penalty. I prefer that a referee continues to make mistakes but not that seven judges are mistaken. You don’t understand how it can work for the two teams or if it only works for one depending on the result.”

Already up 1-0 on aggregate heading into Tuesday’s second leg, River extended its advantage to 3-0 in the early stages of the match with goals from Ignacio Scocco and Gonzalo Montiel, however, the rest of the game proved to be all Lanus.

Gallardo was furious five minutes before halftime when River wasn’t awarded a penalty after Scocco worked his way into the Lanus box, before the ball went off Ivan Marcone’s hand.

The decisive moment came in the 69th minute, when Lanus was given a PK for Montiel’s push on Nicholas Pasquini in the penalty area. Although, the foul was very close to occurring outside the penalty area (video below).

Lanus will either meet Ecuadorian side Barcelona or Brazil’s Gremio in this season’s final — which will be played over two legs in November.

Former Sunderland forward Scocco scores five goals for River Plate

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Veteran forward Ignacio “Nacho” Scocco is quickly endearing himself to the River Plate faithful.

Nearly three months since joining River, Scocco scored an incredible five goals in the second leg of his team’s Copa Libertadores quarterfinal matchup with Bolivian side Jorge Wilstermann. Scocco scored a first half hat-trick and added two more in the second half as River turned around a 3-0 deficit heading into the second leg.

Scocco had a mostly frustrating spell in 2014 ahead of the World Cup with Sunderland, joining the club as they staved off relegation by one point. Scocco failed to score for Sunderland in eight appearances, all off the bench.

However, since then, he returned to his native Argentina and starred for his hometown club Newell’s Old Boys before moving this summer to River as a replacement for Sebastián Driussi, who completed a transfer to Zenit St. Petersburg.

Here’s a look at all of Scocco’s goals Thursday evening.

Ronaldinho agent claims Brazilian is prepared to play in 2017

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After over a year away from the game, Ronaldinho is reportedly prepared to make a return.

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According to the Brazilian midfielder’s agent and brother, Roberto de Assis, Ronaldinho is hoping to sign with a side involved in the Copa Libertadores during the 2017 season.

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Assis has stated that multiple clubs have made contact with him over Ronaldinho’s playing status, including Uruguayan side Nacional.

“The project is to play in 2017,” Assis told Uruguayan outlet Ovacion Digital. “After a quiet year in which we had the opportunity to fly around the world, travel, see other countries we did not know, to be with people, to feel their affection, that’s the idea.

“The 2017 project is to play again and see how things happen. We think he will play in a team that is in the Libertadores.

“I spoke to some intermediaries [about Nacional], but things are still very quiet. When something official arrives, the club will be able to speak.”

The 36-year-old last appeared in a competitive match for Brazilian club Fluminense back in September 2015.

Ronaldinho had previously been linked with a move back to Brazil in December with Chapecoense following the club’s heartbreaking plane crash that left 71 people dead.

Mexican teams will not play in 2017 Copa Libertadores

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MEXICO CITY (AP) Mexican teams will not play in Copa Libertadores, at least in 2017, because the tournament’s new schedule makes it nearly impossible, league President Enrique Bonilla said Friday.

Last month, CONMEBOL changed its calendar to play the tournament between February and November, instead of the first half of the year like it the past. The Mexican teams, invited to play in the championship since 1998, have several conflicts because the new dates create a conflict with the CONCACAF Champions league among others.

Bonilla said that he had several meetings with Conmebol President Alejandro Dominguez and asked for a new schedule but was unsuccessful. After that, both held several meetings trying to make it work, eventually the Mexican side withdrew from the tournament.

Bonilla said that Mexico hopes to return to Copa Libertadores in 2018.

“We want to come back, but playing like this will be to take a step back, it*s too much of a burden for our teams,” Bonilla said. “If we work together we might get something solid for 2018.”

Dominguez, through a press release, said that Conmebol respected the decision and said that the doors are open for Mexico.

“We worked very hard with our Mexican colleagues, and we understand that 2017 will be a transition year. The doors are still open and when Mr. Bonilla gives us a new proposal we will take a look at it,” Dominguez said.