By NESTOR F. SEBASTIAN
The samba beats were quieted Wednesday night.
In what had to be one of the strangest yet historic evenings in Copa Libertadores history, four Brazilian teams were out-fought, out-played and simply out-spirited as they fell in the Round of 16 stage, leaving a more well-proportioned quarterfinal round.
Brazilian and Argentine teams have long been considered the norm and favorites to advance deep in international competitions, but the 2011 edition of this tournament has been a welcomed chapter in South American soccer as teams from Colombia, Chile, Paraguay and Uruguay showed heart and strength in ousting their Brazilian opponents on Wednesday. Only Santos remains from the continent's powerhouse nation.
Argentina's Estudiantes de la Plata may also not advance, which could leave Velez Sarsfield as the possible lone team from that country to move on.
Here's how Wednesday's Copa Libertadores drama played out:
Defending champion Internacional was left shellshocked at home by Uruguayan giants Penarol, who pulled off a 2-1 upset and an overall 3-2 aggregate scoreline in a match marred by fighting between police and Penarol fans.
The Brazilians kick-started the match with a 2nd-minute goal by Oscar, who bombed one from outside the box as the Uruguayans were still getting set up. The second half belonged to the Manya, though. They got two goals within the first five minutes after the halftime break and withstood a barrage of Inter raids thanks to 24-year-old keeper Sebastian Sosa (pictured above), who kept the Brazilians at bay with his intelligence and bravery.
Meanwhile, in Paraguay, Libertad sought to overcome a 3-1 first-leg win by Brazil's Fluminense and did so in miraculous fashion. The Paraguayans notched a 3-0 shutout of Flu, which included two goals in the last five minutes, setting off wild celebrations at Defensores del Chaco Stadium.
Despite its talent, Flu surprisingly looked to defend its first-leg lead but had to reconsider its options after Libertad's Rodrigo Rojas netted a 57th-minute goal. With Flu opening up a bit to equalize, Libertad took advantage and took it to the Brazilians.
For Chile's Universidad Catolica, its task was to maintain simplicity and order at home, carrying a well-played 2-1 away leg win in Brazil over Gremio. The Chileans' patience and composure paid off, as influential midfielder Milovan Mirosevic clinched their quarterfinal ticket with a header with five minutes left in the match to secure the 1-0 result.
The upset of the night, though, belonged to Juan Carlos Osorio and his Once Caldas side, which shut out the best team in the tournament, Brazil's Cruzeiro, 2-0. Until Wednesday, the Brazilians had scored 22 goals and conceded six in seven matches and carried a 2-1 lead into the home leg.
Making the result more improbable is the fact that the Colombians barely made it into the Round of 16, needing a fine 2-0 win in Peru over San Martin to overcome a paltry seven goals scored and five conceded in the group stage.
Cruzeiro's Roger was sent off following a second yellow card around the 30th minute, which gave the Colombians a bit of breathing room to chip away at the Brazilian lead. They eventually surprised the favorites with two goals within a five-minute span midway through the second half to advance.
On Tuesday, Santos advanced as the lone Brazilian representative after holding Mexico's Club America to a goalless draw following last week's 1-0 win at home.
Thursday, Paraguay's Cerro Porteno hosts Argentina's Estudiantes de la Plata with a goalless result from the first leg while Colombia's Junior welcomes Mexico's Jaguares after a 1-1 draw in Mexico.
LDU Quito of Ecuador has a steep mountain to climb in order to overcome a 3-0 deficit to Velez Sarsfield.
Surprised at the Brazilian teams' results? Think the parity is good for the tournament? Who do you think will be the new Copa Libertadores champion?
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