Pelaez Burga/Sports Press Photo/Imago

Johnny, Internacional Settle for Tie in Copa Libertadores Semifinal First Leg

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Johnny Cardoso and Internacional will leave all on the line next week as they settled for the tie with fellow Brazilian side Fluminense in the first leg of their Copa Libertadores semifinal in Rio de Janeiro on Wednesday night.

Fluminense 2-2 Internacional

Internacional fought back from a goal down to take the lead but allowed Fluminense to grab the equalizer their first-leg semifinal game ended all square at the famed Maracana Stadium.

Johnny Cardoso started for the Red and played the entire first half, completing 87 percent of his passes, winning three duels, and making one tackle before he was subbed out as he was on a yellow card.

The Maracana is known for hosting games for Brazil’s national team, but it was rocking on Wednesday night as the two Serie A teams clashed for a spot in the final of South America’s top club competition.

The visitors attacked Fluminense’s goal early and often as the first half started, but it would be the hosts that opened the scoring after 10 minutes. Some high pressure for Internacional’s backline to lose possession of the ball and the counterattack was on. Jhon Arias flew down the right side with the ball, crossed it over to John Kennedy, and the Brazilian left it for German Cano to put it in the back of the net.

Internacional was left frustrated for much of the first interval as they could not score. However, they received an advantage in the 45th minute when the referee showed a red card to Samuel Alexander as the right-back received a second yellow card for a dangerous tackle.

This was all the visitors needed as they went on to level the score before halftime when Hugo Mallo was on the spot to head in a cross from Rene. Despite the protests, the video assistant referee confirmed the goal was good.

Entering the second half, Internacional looked to take more advantage of that man advantage. They thought they had taken the lead when Gabriel Mercado headed in the ball, but it was ruled out by VAR.

However, they would not be denied their second opportunity in the 64th minute. Enner Valencia’s deft touch following a pass from Mauricio, found his teammate Alan Patrick as he struck from just inside the 18-yard box.

Internacional’s lead did not last long as Fluminense was able to score the equalizer in the 78th minute. Cano was able to knock the ball past goalkeeper Sergio Rochet as he redirected a header from Nino following a corner kick.

With the game very much up for grabs, Internacional will hope they have the support of everyone in the red half of Porto Alegre as they play the all-important second leg next Wednesday.

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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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