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Soccer-Venezuelan team win, with help of coach 8,000km away

17 Sep 2020 / 18:45 H.

    Sept 17 (Reuters) - Venezuelan side Estudiantes came back from 2-0 down to beat Alianza Lima 3-2 in the restarted Copa Libertadores on Wednesday - with the help of a coach who was directing play 8,000 km away by phone.

    Martin Brignani had returned to his native Argentina because of the COVID-19 pandemic. But with airports in Venezuela closed for scheduled international flights - the Peruvians arrived by special charter - he was unable to get to back to Estudiantes' home city of Merida.

    Instead, he was forced to watch Wednesday's match on television and converse with his deputies on the sidelines via WhatsApp and telephone.

    Brignani saw his side concede two goals in the first 10 minutes of the second half but Estudiantes roared back to score three goals in the empty stadium.

    The tele-connected coaches made four changes, and one of the subs scored the equaliser after 81 minutes.

    Jose Rivas got the winner from the penalty spot in the seventh minute of stoppage time to seal a superb comeback for a team playing their first competitive match since March 12.

    The win was Estudiantes first in Group F and leaves them in third spot with three points, behind Racing and Nacional but ahead of Alianza Lima.

    The Libertadores, South America's equivalent of the Champions League, restarted this week after a six-month hiatus caused by the pandemic. (Reporting by Andrew Downie Editing by Christian Radnedge)

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