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Barcelona secures option to sign Brazilian midfielder Arthur

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BARCELONA, Spain (AP) Barcelona says it has reached an agreement with Brazilian club Gremio for the option to buy midfielder Arthur for 30 million euros ($37 million) plus variables that could reach 9 million euros ($11 million).

Barcelona said Sunday it can exercise the option for the 21-year-old player in July.

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The Spanish club says Arthur “is a talented midfielder who stands out for his passing ability,” is “excellent at protecting the ball” and is “a danger close to the opponent’s area.”

Arthur was key for Gremio when the Brazilian team won last year’s Copa Libertadores, South America’s top club competition.

He has been a regular in Brazil’s youth squads and has a few call-ups to the full squad.

Arthur made his first-team debut with Gremio under former Brazil coach Luiz Felipe Scolari.

Argentine midfielder fires laser into upper 90 of Copa Libertadores match

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Jesus Datolo reminded Banfield fans that he still packs quite a punch in his left leg.

The veteran Argentine midfielder lasered a strike into the upper 90 in Banfield’s 2-2 draw with Independiente del Valle in the Copa Libertadores, helping take Banfield into the next qualifying round of the tournament on away goals.

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Amazingly, it was the former Espanyol, Napoli and Boca Juniors man’s first goal in the Copa Libertadores since 2012 and his first goal since returning to Banfield last summer.

Check out Datolo’s rocket below.

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.