Internacional bounced back to draw (2-2) away to Fluminense at the Maracana Stadium this Wednesday, in the first leg of the Copa Libertadores-2023 semi-final. But he dominated the game and won until the old Argentine striker Germán Cano reappeared.

Ecuadorian forward Enner Valencia did not score tonight, playing ninety minutes in his fifth appearance at the tournament as a figurehead for the Colorado team.

With a double, Cano prevented Internacional from winning at the Maracana, the scene of an emotional duel between the Brazilian teams.

The 35-year-old striker established himself as the Libertadores top scorer with eleven goals, opening the scoring (10th minute) and equalizing (78th minute) at the Rio de Janeiro Temple, where 67,515 spectators saw a display of bravery from ‘Flu’, who from the 45th minute played with ten players.

The ‘Colorados gaúchos’, led by Argentinian Eduardo Coudet, threatened the spoils with goals from Spanish defender Hugo Mallo (45+4 min) and midfielder Alan Patrick (64 min), taking advantage of the exclusion of right back Samuel Xavier.

The passage to the final, which will be played at the Maracana on November 4, will be decided next Wednesday in Porto Alegre.

In the second tier will be the winner of the karate duel: Boca Juniors (ARG) and Palmeiras (BRA), who will face each other in the first game of the semi-finals on Thursday in Buenos Aires.

The two rivals fielded totally offensive teams and made it clear from the first minute that they would attack and look for a clear advantage in the first game.

In the first minutes, for the same reason, the game was very intense, with several chances to score on both sides, with Enner Valencia ready to make his mark at the Maracana for Inter and Germán Cano ready to show his efficiency with Fluminense at home.

The team from Rio opened the scoring in the 9th minute after a play started by the Colombian Jhon Arias, finished by John Kennedy, and ended by Germán Cano with a strong shot that beat Sergio Rochet.

The partial advantage allowed Fluminense to dominate, with chances by Ken and Arias eventually saved by Rochet, which did not prevent Valencia from counter-attacking to score a goal in the 17th minute that was disallowed for offside.

But the home team’s dominance came to an end almost before the end of the first half after defender Samuel Xavier received a double warning for a foul against Valencia. Inter started to control the match at the Maracana with their full squad on the field.

The guests managed to leave with a tied score thanks to the fact that in the last game of the first half, Spanish defender Hugo Mallo scored his first goal for Inter with a header and after an assist from René.

Although the referee even canceled the goal due to offside, he confirmed it after reviewing the VAR.

With a numerical advantage on the field, Inter started the second half completely attacking, and in the 9th minute Mercado scored a goal with a header after an assist from Mallo, which was eventually disallowed by VAR due to hand contact.

Nine minutes later, Alan Patrick, after tripping Marcelo in the penalty area, scored the second goal for Inter and put the visitors in the lead.

But Inter allowed Fluminense to gather their composure and start to create danger, mainly with Arias and Can, until the Argentine converted a free ball in the penalty area after a corner to equalize in the 77th minute.

The home team was satisfied with the tied result after playing with ten players in the second half and they rather managed to win their advantage until the end. (D)