bad sendoff for santana

RIO DE JANEIRO - Striker Salvador Cabanas scored a pair of goals to lead Mexico's America to a stunning 3-0 upset of Flamengo on Wednesday and a berth in the Copa Libertadores quarterfinals.

RIO DE JANEIRO - Striker Salvador Cabanas scored a pair of goals to lead Mexico's America to a stunning 3-0 upset of Flamengo on Wednesday and a berth in the Copa Libertadores quarterfinals.

America, which lost the first leg of the second-round series 4-2 at home, qualified 5-4 on aggregate and will face either Brazil's Santos or Colombia's Cucuta in the final eight.

Flamengo entered the game as overwhelming favourites, and the festive crowd at Maracana stadium saw the match as a commemorative sendoff for coach Joel Santana, who is contracted to coach the South Africa national team at the 2010 World Cup.

America stunned the Brazilians after 20 minutes when striker Cabanas fired from the top of the penalty area and the ball deflected past goalkeeper Bruno for a 1-0 lead.

America struck again in the 38th minute when Juan Carlos Silva broke down the right side and played in striker Juan Carlos Esqueda, who tapped the ball past a diving Bruno.

Cabanas scored the deciding goal after 76 minutes, firing a free-kick from 30 meters out that deflected off the wall and into the right corner.

Flamengo nearly evened the score in the 35th minute when Juan lofted a cross to Souza at the right post and the striker put a sharp header on goal. But goalkeeper Guillermo Ochoa made a superb reflex save.

Flamengo replaced midfielder Kleberson with Obina for the second half and created good chances with three strikers in attack.

But it was America that nearly scored five minutes into the second half, when Silva fired just wide of the left post from the top of the penalty area.

With six minutes remaining, Flamengo wingback Juan was expelled for kicking a ball at the fallen Cabanas, leaving the team a man down as time expired. - Sapa-AP

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