The field for the Copa Libertadores 2008 was reduced to four this week and the only member of the quartet to have lifted the trophy are defending champions Boca Juniors. Lining up alongside the Argentinian giants are Brazilians Fluminense, Ecuador's LDU and America of Mexico, the first time since 1999 that the semi-finals have featured clubs from four different countries. FIFA.com looks back at a fascinating week of quarter-final, second-leg action.
Game of the week
Fluminense 3-1 Sao Paulo
Goals: Washington 12, 90, Dodo 71 (Fluminense); Adriano 70 (Sao Paulo)
Even by Libertadores standards, the closing stages of Fluminense's return leg with O Tricolor Paulista were dramatic. Trailing 1-0 from the first leg, the Rio de Janeiro side levelled the tie early on, only for Adriano to wrest the advantage back for the visitors with his sixth goal of the tournament. Staring elimination in the face, the hosts somehow roused themselves, Dodo putting them ahead on the night again to tee up an electrifying final 20 minutes. And just as it looked as if Fluminense's efforts might be in vain, Washington popped up with an injury-time header to book them a maiden semi-final slot.
Surprise of the week
Atlas 0-3 Boca Juniors
Goals: Martin Palermo 20, 34, 38
A 2-2 draw in Argentina had left Atlas in the driving seat to progress, but, just as they did away at Cruzeiro in the previous round, Boca Juniors thrived on their travels, this time in Guadalajara. With Juan Roman Riquelme doing the prompting and Palermo the scoring, the Buenos Aires giants once again showed their big-match temperament to cruise into the semis for the sixth time in the last nine years.
The following evening saw LDU become the first Ecuadorian representatives to progress to the last four since Barcelona in 1998. It was, however, a close-run thing for El Albo against San Lorenzo. After a 1-1 draw at the Nuevo Gasometro last week, Damian Manso and Gonzalo Bergessio traded goals to take the tie into extra time, with the visitors a man down following Juan Manuel Torres's dismissal. El Ciclón held on to force penalties, but when Jose Cevallos kept out Aureliano Torres's spot-kick, LDU's Argentinian striker Claudio Bieler stepped up to seal his side's place in the last four.
America were also made to work hard for their aggregate success. Las Águilas were grateful for the 2-0 lead they took into their return leg against Santos at the Vila Belmiro, the Mexicans going down 1-0 on the night but nonetheless reaching their third semi-final in six years. And not for the first time, Guillermo Ochoa was America's hero, the Mexican international goalkeeper keeping the Brazilians at bay with another high-class display. Kleber Pereira gave Santos a glimmer of hope in the second half, but despite the presence of club legends Pele and Robinho in the stands, O Peixe were unable to break through a second time, the visitors hanging on to avenge last year's defeat at the same stage.
Player of the week
Martin Palermo (Boca Juniors centre-forward)
El Loco drove Atlas crazy with his polished finishing, notching left and right-footed strikes before completing his hat-trick with a delicious chip from outside the area. Palermo's treble took his tournament haul to six, and the 34-year-old Xeneize striker is closing in fast on his third Libertadores winner's medal with Boca after triumphs in 2000 and 2007.
8: The number of games Fluminense forward Washington had gone without scoring before his double against Sao Paulo. The 33-year-old striker joined Flu at the beginning of the year after top-scoring for Japanese outfit Urawa Red Diamonds at the FIFA Club World Cup Japan 2007.
What they said
"It wasn't just a question of us coming up short. Our opponents deserved to go through because they took their chances and made the difference in the first half. It was all over by half-time," Atlas coach Miguel Brindisi.
Quarter-final, second-leg results:
Wednesday 21 May
Fluminense (BRA) 3-1 Sao Paulo (BRA)
Atlas (MEX) 0-3 Boca Juniors (ARG)
Thursday 22 May
LDU (ECU) 1-1 San Lorenzo (ARG) - LDU win 5-3 on penalties
Santos (BRA) 1-0 America (MEX)
Semi-final fixtures (ties to be played on 28 May and 4