Sao Paulo reach Libertadores knockouts

Sao Paulo, April 18 (IANS) Rogerio Ceni and Ademilson struck second-half goals as three-time champions Sao Paulo defeated Atletico Mineiro 2-0 to advance to the Copa Libertadores knockout phase.

The Brazilian outfit jumped to second in Group 3 ahead of Bolivia’s The Strongest, which slipped to third after a 1-2 away defeat to Argentina’s Arsenal de Sarandi, reports Xinhua.

The loss at Morumbi Stadium here Wednesday was Atletico Mineiro’s first in the competition and the Brazilian club still progresses to the Round of 16 with the tournament’s best record.

After a goalless first half, Ceni broke the deadlock with a 56th-minute spot-kick after Leonardo Silva pulled down Aloisio in the area. It was the 40-year-old goalkeeper’s 112th goal for the club, considered a world record for a non-outfield player.

Second-half substitute Ademilson made it 2-0 shortly with a first-time finish from Osvaldo’s cross after a precisely weighted pass by Paulo Henrique Ganso. Afterwards a jubilant Ceni admitted he had feared the match would be his last in the Copa Libertadores, a tournament he has won twice in a decorated 21-year career.

“It went through my head that this might be it and I really didn’t want it to end that way. I still think I have something to give and so does this team. We made a slow start to the tournament but now we have arrived,” said Ceni, who won 17 international caps for Brazil between 1997 and 2006.

In other games Wednesday, six-time winners Boca Juniors lost 2-3 to Toluca but qualified second in their group behind Nacional, who stumbled 0-1 away to Barcelona de Guayaquil.

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