SAO PAULO — River Plate of Argentina reached the final of the South American cup on Tuesday after shocking defending champion Gremio of Brazil, setting up a possible championship match between two Argentinian teams in the Copa Libertadores for the first time in history.
River beat the Brazilians 2-1 in Porto Alegre and advanced on the away goals rule to its first South American final since 2015. Last week, River lost 1-0 to Gremio in Buenos Aires.
Midfielder Pity Martinez scored the decisive goal in stoppage time after the referee awarded River a penalty following a video review that confirmed a handball by defender Matheus Bressan.
Leonardo scored for Gremio in the 36th minute and had a clear chance with Everton squandering an opportunity face to face against goalkeeper Franco Armani to make it 2-0 for the hosts at 66 minutes.
But River tied it in the 81st minute with a header by Colombian striker Rafael Borre, after a cross by Martinez, putting more pressure on the defending champions. After the match Gremio players said that goal should have been disallowed because of a Borre handball.
“We were the only team on the pitch in the first half. They only had long balls. We had power and strategy. That’s why other teams respect us,” Martinez said.
River’s adversary in its quest for a fourth Copa Libertadores title will be known on Wednesday, when Boca Juniors defends its 2-0 first-leg victory against Brazil’s Palmeiras, coached by World Cup winner Luiz Felipe Scolari.
If Boca survives, it will play its archrival in the final for the first time. Never before have two Argentinian clubs played for the Copa Libertadores.