America eliminates Vasco

<img border='0' align='left' title=' ' src='' class='caption'> Mexico's America beat Vasco da Gama of Brazil 1-0 on Wednesday and qualified for the semifinals of the Copa Sudamericana on a 2-1 aggregate score.

Updated: October 26, 2007 09:59 IST
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Rio De Janeiro, Brazil:

With an exceptional showing by goalkeeper Guillermo Ochoa, Mexico's America beat Vasco da Gama of Brazil 1-0 on Wednesday and qualified for the semifinals of the Copa Sudamericana on a 2-1 aggregate score.

With a handful of standout saves, Ochoa turned away a dominating Vasco offense and guaranteed a semifinal berth after America won the first game of the home-and-away series 2-0 two weeks ago in Mexico City.

"We had good chances but didn't convert," said Vasco striker and coach Romario. "I'm not happy with the result, but I'm happy because it was a good game."

America now will face Argentina's Arsenal or Chivas of Mexico in the final eight.

Vasco, with veteran striker Romario improvising as coach after the firing of Manager Celso Roth on Monday, came out with five changes in his team's lineup and a more aggressive offense.

Romario, off the field for months with injuries, didn't start himself but remained on the bench as an option.

Needing to win by three goals to avoid a tiebreaker, Vasco opened the scoring after 10 minutes when Argentine midfielder Dario Conca sent a corner kick to the near post and Rubens Junior headed the ball backward into the penalty area. Amaral fired it home for a 1-0 Vasco lead.

As the crowd chanted at Sao Januario stadium, Vasco put on an offensive show forcing Ochoa to make some exceptional saves.

The rain that had soaked Rio all day let up in the second half, but Vasco' offensive pressure continued unabated.

At 49 minutes, Vasco created an excellent chance when Conca found Leandro Amaral with a cross and the striker sent a sharp header on goal that Ochoa tipped away with another exceptional save.

Alan Kardec collected the rebound and put another header on goal that the defense cleared from the goal line.

At 64 minutes, Romario put himself in, replacing Alan Kardec. Minutes later he called in striker Enilton for wingack Rubens Junior, giving Vasco a three-striker offense.

Romario got his best chance at 79 minutes, when Wagner Diniz stole the ball at midfield and crossed to Romario. The strike controlled the ball on his chest and sent a bullet on goal that was deflected wide by Castro.

With four minutes left, Leonardo Amaral fired from the top of the penalty area but the shot was smothered by defender Oscar Rojas. Conca shot from long range and nicked the right post.

It was Romario's first and - according to him - last shot at coaching. Vasco President Eurico Miranda said he would name a new coach on Thursday.

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