River Plate will face bitter rivals Boca Juniors in a rematch of last season's Copa Libertadores decider after the defending champions overcame Cerro Porteno in the quarter-finals.

Thursday's 1-1 draw away to Paraguayan side Cerro Porteno was enough for River to reach the semi-finals 3-1 on aggregate.

River – seeking back-to-back titles – carried a 2-0 lead into the second leg thanks to goals from Ignacio Fernandez and Rafael Borre in Buenos Aires.

Cerro Porteno sparked hope of a comeback in the eighth minute when former Borussia Dortmund forward Nelson Valdez put the home side ahead on the night.

Valdez – a 77-time Paraguay international – glanced a header past River goalkeeper Franco Armani.

But Cerro Porteno's hopes were dashed when River midfielder Nicolas De La Cruz scored seven minutes into the second half with a ferocious volley.

River will now go head-to-head with Boca in a blockbuster all-Argentinian Libertadores semi-final.

It comes after River claimed the 2018 trophy with a 5-3 aggregate win over Boca in their controversial two-legged showdown.

The second leg had to be rearranged and moved to Real Madrid's Santiago Bernabeu in December after the match was twice suspended in November due to an attack on Boca's team bus by supporters.

Flamengo and Boca Juniors reached the Copa Libertadores semi-finals as Internacional and LDU Quito bowed out on Wednesday.

Gabriel 'Gabigol' Barbosa scored to earn Flamengo a 1-1 draw away to Brazilian rivals Internacional and a 3-1 victory on aggregate.

Flamengo – led by Jorge Jesus and boasting former Atletico Madrid star Filipe Luis – carried a 2-0 lead into the return leg in Porto Alegre.

Internacional gave themselves hope just past the hour-mark when Rodrigo Lindoso glanced a header beyond Flamengo goalkeeper Diego Alves.

Gabigol – tipped to make his loan deal from Serie A giants Inter permanent – extinguished Internacional's chances with five minutes remaining after side-footing into an empty net, having received a simple pass from first-leg hero Bruno Henrique.

Flamengo, who claimed their one and only Libertadores title in 1981, will meet Gremio in the final four as they return to the semis for the first time in 35 years.

Meanwhile, Boca reached the semi-finals for the second successive year following their 0-0 draw at home to Antonio Valencia's LDU Quito midweek.

There were no goals scored in Buenos Aires but Boca still progressed 3-0 on aggregate after their comprehensive victory last week.

Daniele De Rossi came off the bench with 10 minutes remaining as six-time champions and last season's runners-up Boca await holders River Plate or Cerro Porteno in the semis.

Boca Juniors took a giant step towards the Copa Libertadores semi-finals, while Flamengo beat Internacional on Wednesday.

Runners-up last year, Boca comfortably beat a 10-man LDU Quito 3-0 in the first leg of their quarter-final in Ecuador.

Boca, with Daniele De Rossi watching from the bench, opened the scoring in the 11th minute, Ramon Abila getting on the end of an Alexis Mac Allister pass to make it 1-0.

LDU Quito were dealt a huge blow just before half-time as Jefferson Orejuela was sent off for a rash challenge.

Emanuel Reynoso doubled Boca's lead with a brilliant 25-yard free-kick, and Kevin Minda was sent off while on the bench for the hosts.

Boca sealed a fine win with nine minutes remaining, Luis Caicedo's poor defending eventually leading to the defender scoring an own goal.

If Boca and rivals River Plate, who play Cerro Porteno on Thursday, advance, they will meet in the semi-finals in a rematch of last year's controversial decider.

In the day's other game, Bruno Henrique's late brace saw Flamengo beat Internacional 2-0 at the Maracana.

Henrique tapped in a Gerson pass for the 75th-minute opener before producing a fine finish soon after to seal Flamengo's first-leg victory.

Boca Juniors star Daniele De Rossi made his league debut for the club in a 2-0 win over Aldosivi at La Bombonera on Sunday.

De Rossi made his first appearance for Boca in their shock penalty shoot-out defeat to Almagro in the Copa Argentina on Tuesday.

The 36-year-old, who left boyhood club Roma for Boca, marked his bow with a goal in that match against the second-tier side.

But De Rossi had his first proper taste of life at Boca as he stepped out onto the famous La Bombonera turf in Buenos Aires for his first league match.

Former Italy international De Rossi played the full 90 minutes in a Superliga Argentina victory sealed by Carlos Tevez and Eduardo Salvio.

Ex-Manchester United, Manchester City and Juventus forward Tevez opened the scoring in the 34th minute before substitute Salvio made it 2-0 with 12 minutes remaining as Boca made it two wins from three matches in the league.

Boca, who are unbeaten, are third as they eye their first Superliga crown since 2017-18 and 34th overall.

Daniele De Rossi scored on his Boca Juniors debut but the Argentine powerhouse suffered a shock penalty shoot-out defeat to Almagro.

De Rossi made a dream start to life at Boca after leaving boyhood club Roma, marking his bow with the 28th-minute opener on Tuesday.

The 36-year-old's bullet header at Estadio Ciudad de La Plata had three-time Copa champions Boca on track to advance to the round of 16.

However, when De Rossi was substituted with 13 minutes remaining, Boca lost control against the second-tier side.

Juan Martinez equalised for Almagro within five minutes of former Italy international De Rossi's exit as the match went to extra time.

De Rossi then watched from the sidelines as Boca – winners in 2014-15 – were stunned 3-1 in the shoot-out.

Afterwards, Boca forward Ramon Abila told reporters: "It bothers me to lose, but we apologise to the people of Boca."

Daniele De Rossi marked his Boca Juniors debut with a goal in a dream start to his career with the Argentine giants.

De Rossi, 36, joined Boca last month after ending an 18-year stay with boyhood club Roma in Serie A.

The midfielder had an instant impact on debut, heading in the opening goal against Almagro in the Copa Argentina on Tuesday.

De Rossi got on the end of a corner from Alexis Mac Allister in the 28th minute to put Boca ahead at Estadio Ciudad de La Plata.

The former Italy international only scored 63 goals in 616 games for Roma, but made a dream goalscoring start to life at Boca.

Cagliari have bolstered their midfield ranks further by signing long-term target Nahitan Nandez from Boca Juniors.

Uruguay international Nandez has agreed a five-year contract at Cagliari, who paid a reported €18million for a player they hoped to sign last January.

The 23-year-old will team up with Radja Nainggolan, who arrived on a one-year loan from Inter this week, in central midfield at the Sardegna Arena.

In a photo alongside Nandez posted on Twitter, Cagliari president Tommaso Giulini wrote: "Finally a Rossoblu."

Nandez has won league titles in Uruguay and Argentina but was on the losing side in the 2018 Copa Libertadores final, despite setting up Dario Benedetto's opener in the second leg at the Santiago Bernabeu.

LA Galaxy have confirmed the loan signing of Argentina winger Cristian Pavon from Boca Juniors.

Pavon, who made four appearances at last year's World Cup, completed his switch to the Galaxy before Wednesday's MLS deadline, with the transfer confirmed the following day.

The 23-year-old's temporary deal through to the end of the 2019 season will be covered by targeted allocation money.

The Galaxy then reportedly have the option to extend Pavon's deal for another season, at which point the club would need to free up a Designated Player slot - their three are occupied by Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Jonathan dos Santos and Romain Alessandrini.

LA were forced to cut Giovani dos Santos from their squad this season - he subsequently joined Club America - after Ibrahimovic agreed an improved contract.

It is said the Galaxy could sign Pavon to a permanent deal at the end of the 2020 campaign, with an MLS record $20million fee agreed.

Pavon had been linked with a move to the Premier League with Arsenal earlier this year.

The Galaxy's rivals and runaway Supporters' Shield frontrunners Los Angeles FC boosted their own attack with Brian Rodriguez arriving from Penarol as a Young Designated Player.

LAFC sent United States international Christian Ramirez to Houston Dynamo, while Real Salt Lake signed Kelyn Rowe, and New York Red Bulls brought in Southampton's Josh Sims until the end of the season as a Young Designated Player.

Dario Benedetto has sealed his reported €14million move from Boca Juniors to Marseille, becoming Andre Villas-Boas' second signing in France.

Argentina international Benedetto joins centre-back Alvaro Gonzalez in moving to Marseille, where he will hope to go some way towards replacing Mario Balotelli.

Balotelli scored eight goals in 15 Ligue 1 matches in an entertaining stint with the club. He left when his contract expired at the end of last season.

Benedetto has taken the number nine shirt worn by the Italian, who has been linked with a switch to Flamengo.

Benedetto has taken the number nine shirt worn by the Italian, who has been linked with a switch to Flamengo.

Benedetto scored 30 goals in 34 appearances across his first two Superliga campaigns with Boca but was on target just twice in 15 outings in 2018-19 after returning from knee and Achilles injuries.

He played a starring role in Boca's run to the 2018 Copa Libertadores final, scoring in the second leg as arch-rivals River Plate won the trophy.

Marseille have endured a tough pre-season and coach Villas-Boas acknowledged star players could yet be sold to the Premier League following a friendly loss to Napoli.

Boca Juniors booked their spot in the Copa Libertadores quarter-finals, while Flamengo completed a comeback against Emelec to progress on Wednesday.

Runners-up last year, Boca recorded a 2-0 victory over Athletico Paranaense at La Bombonera to secure a 3-0 aggregate win.

Ramon Abila scored the opening goal of the second leg with a powerful finish in the 57th minute.

The hosts sealed their win deep into additional time through Eduardo Salvio as they moved into the last eight, where they will face Ecuadorian outfit LDU Quito.

Flamengo needed penalties to overcome Emelec, winning 2-0 in Rio de Janeiro before a 4-2 shoot-out success.

Gabriel Barbosa, on loan from Inter, struck twice in the opening 19 minutes – including from the penalty spot – to bring the tie level at 2-2 on aggregate.

Diego Alves, who developed a reputation for saving penalties during his time with Valencia, saved from Dixon Arroyo in the shoot-out before Nicolas Queiroz hit the crossbar, sending Flamengo through.

Next up for Flamengo are Internacional, who claimed a 2-0 win at home to Nacional to wrap up a 3-0 aggregate success.

Cerro Porteno set up a quarter-final meeting with defending champions River Plate thanks to a come-from-behind 2-1 win over San Lorenzo in Asuncion, after their first leg finished 0-0.

Daniele De Rossi believes he has chosen to continue his career with "the craziest fans in football" after joining Boca Juniors following his Roma departure.

The 36-year-old midfielder had spent his entire professional career at Roma, having come through their academy, but they opted to let him leave on a free transfer and that sparked protests from supporters.

Initially the former Italy international looked destined to retire, but Boca emerged as a potential destination, and it soon became apparent De Rossi had long desired to represent Los Xeneizes.

De Rossi was given a hero's welcome upon his arrival in Buenos Aires, and Boca confirmed his signing on Thursday after he agreed a 12-month contract.

He was officially presented to the media on Monday and highlighted the influence of Boca sporting director Nicolas Burdisso – a former Roma team-mate of De Rossi's – and the passion of the fans in his decision to sign.

 Con este emotivo video, el club sorprendió a Daniele De Rossi en medio de la conferencia de prensa. ¡No te lo pierdas! pic.twitter.com/vwfnjQf3Sy

— Boca Jrs. Oficial (@BocaJrsOficial) July 29, 2019

"These days I think I want to be inside this stadium, to know deeply what it means," he told reporters.

"The reception at the airport was incredible. I can't thank you enough other than by doing my job as seriously as I can. I have to be serious to show that we all made a good choice.

"From time to time we talked, Nicolas and I. First, I said yes after I left Roma, but then I asked him if I could think about it a little more.

"Being 36 years old and changing everything at once was something that could scare me, but this place stimulates me, and Nicolas was my guarantee.

"He told me that they are professionals in Boca and I believe him. He is my friend; he would not have brought me to a place where I wouldn't fit in.

"Estoy muy feliz de estar acá" | Daniele De Rossi fue presentado este lunes en conferencia de prensa y brindó sus primeras palabras como jugador Xeneize.

  https://t.co/yUNjUqBHjK pic.twitter.com/pUVAYLuk2b

— Boca Jrs. Oficial (@BocaJrsOficial) July 29, 2019

"I need serious people, with a structure similar to that in Europe, and what I have seen here is that, a suitable place to work.

"I asked myself many times. I lived for 20 years in a country where football is lived 24 hours a day.

"I could have chosen a much quieter place to relax, but I only know one way: seriousness, and then I chose to come to a place with the craziest fans in football."

Boca Juniors are unwilling to rush Daniele De Rossi's debut, with the midfielder set to make his first appearance for the South American giants in mid-August.

The Roma and Italy great signed with Boca last week after his 18-season stay with the Serie A giants came to an end.

However, De Rossi must wait for his debut, with the club eyeing their Copa Argentina clash against Almagro on August 13 as a possible first appearance for the 36-year-old.

"We are testing him. He is in an evaluation period," Boca coach Gustavo Alfaro told a news conference after his side drew 0-0 with Huracan on Sunday.

"We are evaluating him because he has a really good attitude and he shows himself eager to work. We are looking at his physical conditions.

"So, based on this I was talking with his trainer to see how possible it is to get him ready to play against Almagro in the Copa Argentina. That's in 18 days, it was 18 days when I talked to him. I asked him if we can get him fit in 18 days.

"We are working on this premise, so he can get onto the pitch at that time so he can play."

Daniele De Rossi says he is fulfilling a dream by joining Boca Juniors.

The veteran midfielder was confirmed as a Boca player on Thursday after leaving boyhood club Roma at the end of his contract.

The 2006 World Cup winner was tempted by the prospect of a switch to MLS, with Los Angeles FC said to have been interested in his signature.

However, the 36-year-old has followed his heart by moving to the Bombonera to play for a club co-founded by Italians at the beginning of the last century.

In a special video released to mark his arrival at Boca, De Rossi said: "My heart is Roma, but I've really liked Boca since I was a boy. For [Diego] Maradona, for the stadium, because I love the stadium, I love the fans, who are passionate.

"It's a club founded by Italians that has made me feel at home, a big club, one you can believe in.

"I'd love to go to America, but to climb those stairs, go out into the Bombonera with the Boca players... that would be a pleasure.

"The most important thing in life is to be able to achieve all your dreams. Thank you, Boca."

Manchester United may have identified a potential replacement for Romelu Lukaku.

Lukaku has been heavily linked with a switch to Inter, although progress on the striker's potential move from Old Trafford has been slow.

However, United are preparing if the Belgium international does depart, with Moussa Dembele reportedly on their shortlist.

 

TOP STORY – MAN UNITED EYE DEMBELE AS LUKAKU REPLACEMENT

Lyon striker Dembele will be on Manchester United's shortlist if they sell Lukaku to Inter, according to Sky Sports News.

The former Fulham and Celtic striker enjoyed a fine first season with the Ligue 1 giants, scoring 20 goals in all competitions.

United have also been linked to Lille's Nicolas Pepe, but the report says they see Dembele as a better replacement for Lukaku.

ROUND-UP

- Mauro Icardi is almost certain to leave Inter and the forward was contacted by Boca Juniors, according to Fox Sports Argentina. However, they say Icardi will not make the move to his homeland.

- Another forward set for a possible move is Radamel Falcao. According to Soccer Link, Valencia have expressed an interest in the Monaco star.

- Barcelona have continually been linked with a move for Real Betis left-back Junior Firpo and, according to Sport, the defender is their priority. The Spain Under-21 international is seen as a possible future replacement for Jordi Alba, but Barca reportedly do not want to pay more than €20million, even though Junior's release clause is said to be closer to €50m.

- Wilfried Zaha is a reported target for Arsenal, but it seems Everton could be ready to pounce to sign the Crystal Palace star. The Daily Mail says Everton are prepared to make an opening offer of £55m.

- Rafinha has options should he want to move from Barcelona. According to Sport, the midfielder has offers from Valencia and Serie A clubs Atalanta and Fiorentina.

- Borussia Dortmund want to land Barcelona attacker Malcom. According to Goal, Dortmund could pay €42m for Malcom, just a year after the 22-year-old made the move from Bordeaux for the same fee.

Daniele De Rossi has extended his 18-year professional career by joining Boca Juniors in Argentina.

The former Italy international left hometown club Roma at the end of last season after learning his contract would not be renewed.

Revered at Stadio Olimpico, where he debuted in October 2001, the 36-year-old De Rossi will prolong his playing days at the equally iconic La Bombonera after signing a deal on Thursday.

He arrives in Buenos Aires as a World Cup winner who won Coppa Italia twice and the Supercoppa Italiana with the Giallorossi.

Using Opta data, we take a look at the dependable, highly decorated and vastly experienced midfielder Boca have gained.

616 - De Rossi played 616 times for Roma in all competitions, albeit still 170 short of the club's record appearance maker Francesco Totti.

61 - The midfielder has, however, featured in more Champions League/European Cup matches than any other Roma player. His tally of 61 is four more than Totti managed.

459 - In total, De Rossi featured in 459 Serie A games for Roma.

249 - With De Rossi in their side, Roma won 249 league matches. They lost on 99 occasions and had 111 draws.

63 - De Rossi scored 63 goals for Roma in his 18-year spell in the first-team – 43 of those were in Serie A, with 13 in European competitions.

117 - Only three players have won more Italy caps than De Rossi's 117. They are Gianluigi Buffon (176), Fabio Cannavaro (136) and Paolo Maldini (126).

21 - De Rossi found the net against 21 of the 40 teams he faced in Serie A. He also managed 21 international goals.

4 - Chievo were De Rossi's favourite opponents when it came to getting himself on the scoresheet, as the holding midfielder netted four times in 24 league appearances against them.

355 - Only two players in Roma's history – De Rossi and Totti – have made at least 500 appearances for the club. De Rossi also played alongside the forward 355 times in Serie A.

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