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Flamengo prepare for Copa Libertadores final with Gremio stalemate

RIO DE JANEIRO, Nov. 23 (Xinhua) — Flamengo missed a chance to make up ground in the Brazilian Serie A title race with a 2-2 draw at Gremio on Tuesday.

After a first half of a few opportunities for both teams, Flamengo forward Vitinho Santo struck twice in 16 minutes to hand the visitors a 2-0 lead.

Gremio were reduced to 10 men on the hour mark when forward Jhonata Silva was booked for a second time because of a rash challenge.

But the hosts refused to surrender and were rewarded when Colombian center Miguel Borja struck from close range after Aldemir Ferreira’s cross.

Ferreira then put Gremio on level terms with an angled finish into the far corner after again combining with Borja.

Second-placed Flamengo remain eight points behind leaders Atletico Mineiro, who drew 2-2 at Palmeiras earlier in the day.

Gremio continue in a fight to avoid relegation with just 36 points, two points shy of the safety zone.

Flamengo began the match in Porto Alegre with several regular starters on the bench as a precaution ahead of Saturday’s Copa Libertadores final against Palmeiras.

Head coach Rena Gaucho will have been encouraged by the return of striker Pedro Santos and play Giorgian De Arrascaeta from injury.

“Now we’re going to focus on the final. It will be a tough game but we’ll be going out to win,” said Pedro who had not played since undergoing keyhole knee surgery in October.

“Flamengo always have to contend for titles so, with all due respect to our opponents, we’ll be looking to win the final.”

In Tuesday’s only other Brazilian Serie A fixture Juventude drew 1-1 at Atletico Goianiense.

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