Pelaez Burga/Sports Press Photo/Imago

Johnny Assists, Scores PK as Internacional Advance in Copa Libertadores

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Johnny Cardoso played a big role for Internacional as he recorded an assist for the Brazilian club to overturn a 2-1 aggregate scoreline and come away the winners over River Plate after penalties on Tuesday night to advance to the quarterfinals of the Copa Libertadores.

The midfielder started for Inter and went the distance, completing 77 percent of his passes, winning eight duels, and making two tackles along with two key passes.

River Plate entered the game with a 2-1 win in the first leg of the contest and had the difficult task of going to Estadio Jose Pinheiro Borda to get a result.

It was an intense first half as both teams looked to find goals only to end up disappointed when it remained 0-0 at halftime.

The second half would prove different as the Internacional finally got on the scoreboard in the 70th minute to end the deadlock. Wanderson’s corner kick from the right side found Johnny and the 21-year-old headed the ball into the path of teammate Gabriel Mercado to put it past River Plate goalkeeper Franco Armani.

The goal lifted the spirits of the Internacional faithful and the players pushed for more. They would grab a second eight minutes later when the captain Alan Patrick’s free-kick took a deflection off a River Plate player in the wall and caught the goalkeeper off guard as he helplessly dove to his left to stop the ball. But it was too late.

With the aggregate now 3-2 in favor of Inter, it looked as if they would come away with the win in regulation. The Argentine side thought differently as they found the goal in the 90th minute. Robert Rojas would keep his run going to get his foot on a corner kick and send the game to penalties.

It was a back-and-forth affair as both teams converted from the spot. Then, in the seventh round, things got interesting as River Plate’s Pablo Solari initially put away his penalty. However, after a review from the video assistant referee, it was ruled out, giving Internacional the chance to end the game. Carlos de Pena stepped up and saw his shot crash off the post, meaning the shootout would continue.

Johnny would come up to take the eighth penalty for Inter and convert it before Rojas, who scored the equalizer for River Plate, saw his spot-kick come smacking off the bar. Goalkeeper Sergio Rochet put the game to bed as he scored the decider to give his team passage to the quarterfinals.

Up next for Internacional is a date with Bolivar from Bolivia.

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Kenya Brown

Born in America, but raised in Europe and Asia, Kenya has loved soccer ever since his parents put a ball at his feet. While covering some of the top U.S. players around Europe, he loves putting the spotlight on players who are based in leagues off the beaten path. He also interviews coaches and other people in the game to gain more insight.

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