The visitors went down to 10 men late on...
Internacional progressed to the last eight of the Copa Libertadores on away goals after beating Banfield 2-0 in Porto Alegre. Alecsandro and Walter scored for the hosts to put them through, while James Rodriguez was sent off late on for the Argentines.
With the winner of the clash facing holders Estudiantes in the next round the stakes were high. As expected, the hosts started on the front foot, with Andres D'Alessandro and Andrezinho looking lively in midfield, but el Taladro were defending solidly.
After 12 minutes, Walter got to the byline and was able to cut the ball back for D'Alessandro, but the flamboyant midfielder's instinctive shot from the edge of the box crashed off the underside of the bar. Shortly after, Bolivar was afforded a free header from a corner but Lucchetti collected the effort easily.
It was constant pressure from Inter as they tried to halve the aggregate deficit as soon as possible. Poor defending from a corner allowed Andrezinho to have a shot from 20 yards on 18 minutes, but Banfield also showed they were a threat in attack as Sebastian Fernandez curled a shot just over the bar only a couple of minutes later.
Midway through the first half, the hosts had another chance when D'Alessandro created another opportunity for Walter but the striker headed just wide from the cross. After a strong start though, Internacional were finding it difficult to break down Banfield's resilient backline.
There were claims for a penalty for the visitors 10 minutes before the break when a cross hit Alecsandro's arm in the box, but the referee adjudged that it was not intentional and waved play on. Moments later, the striker volleyed wide from close range following a fine move involving Walter and Andrezinho.
Just before the break though, Inter got the crucial breakthrough. D'Alessandro showed incredible skill and vision on the edge of the area to play a ball through for Andrezinho, and it was simple enough for the midfielder to slide the ball across to Alecsandro to tap home from a matter of yards. El Taladro were on the ropes in the final minutes of the first half, but they were still 3-2 ahead on aggregate at half time.
Both Andrezinho and Alecsandro were appealing for penalties in favour of Internacional in the opening minutes of the second half, though neither player was successful, as the hosts flew out of the blocks again in an attempt to unsettle Banfield.
Inter were close to a second goal when Walter delivered a clever ball through to Alecsandro in the penalty area, but the goalscorer's shot was easily saved by Lucchetti. The Argentine outfit were struggling to cope with the constant pressure from the hosts, and Walter Erviti conceded a free kick 25 yards from goal 10 minutes into the second period. D'Alessandro stepped up, but Lucchetti easily collected the deflected shot.
The keeper was beaten for a second time minutes later though as Fabiano Eller crossed from the left wing for Walter to head confidently past the Banfield shot-stopper into the corner of the net. With Inter holding a 2-0 lead on the night, the visitors had to come forward and score a goal of their own to avoid being eliminated on the away goals rule.
This was clearly in the Argentines' minds as they began to pour forward in a manner that had not been seen in the previous hour, and Inter responded by putting on the more pragmatic Giuliano in place of the attacking Andrezinho.
Alecsandro brought a good save from Lucchetti with 15 minutes to go as the hosts continued to dominate proceedings. Banfield were struggling to make inroads in attack, and things went from bad to worse as James Rodriguez was sent off for a second yellow card as he illegally brought down D'Alessandro.
Despite a late rally from the visitors, they were unable to find the crucial third goal of the game and the Brazilians progress to the last eight on away goals.
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