Copa Lib­er­ta­dores match halted amid vi­o­lence in Brazil

Malta Independent - - SPORT -

The Copa Lib­er­ta­dores match be­tween Brazil's San­tos and Ar­gentina's In­de­pen­di­ente had to be called off be­fore the fi­nal whis­tle Tues­day night af­ter an­gry lo­cal fans fought with po­lice and threw fire­works onto the pitch.

The sec­ond leg of the round-of-16 match was tied 0-0 with less than 10 min­utes to go when San­tos sup­port­ers started rip­ping seats from the stands and later stormed the pitch. They were fu­ri­ous over a de­ci­sion an­nounced by govern­ing body CONMEBOL less than nine hours ear­lier that In­de­pen­di­ente had been awarded a 3-0 win in the first leg, de­spite that match also end­ing 0-0, af­ter San­tos fielded an in­el­i­gi­ble player.

That rul­ing was over a three-year-old red card, as Uruguayan mid­fielder Car­los Sanchez was still car­ry­ing a sus­pen­sion in CONMEBOL com­pe­ti­tions af­ter be­ing sent off in a Copa Su­damer­i­cana match in 2015.

The con­ti­nen­tal body said the 0-0 re­sult from the sec­ond leg would stand, mean­ing In­de­pen­di­ente ad­vanced. It will face Rac­ing or River Plate in the tour­na­ment's quar­ter­fi­nals.

The in­ci­dent has once again cast the spot­light on CONMEBOL, an or­ga­ni­za­tion tainted by mis­man­age­ment and a se­ries of graft scan­dals in­volv­ing its pre­vi­ous top lead­ers in re­cent years.

San­tos' 17-year-old striker Rodrygo, who was re­cently signed by Real Madrid, said he would have acted like the fans did if he were on the stands.

"This is shame­ful. These fans are to­tally right," he told jour­nal­ists. "We need to un­der­stand how fans feel. We went to Ar­gentina, played as hard as we could, drew 0-0 and then we ar­rive here los­ing 3-0.

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