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Palmeiras call for CONMEBOL action after Copa Libertadores brawl

Palmeiras players face off with Penarol players after their Copa Libertadores match.

Palmeiras are hoping that CONMEBOL act swiftly and punish Uruguayan outfit Penarol following a brawl that marred their 3-2 come-from-behind triumph in Montevideo in the Copa Libertadores.

Brazil side Palmeiras trailed 2-0 at half-time but hit back for a 3-2 triumph on Wednesday that put them top of Group 5 with 10 points, while the hosts remained at the foot of the standings with just three points.

Instead of celebrating a victory after the final whistle, the Palmeiras players became engaged in a fight on the pitch. The melee that broke out involved the players and staff of the two sides.

Palmeiras star Felipe Melo, a former player at Inter Milan and Galatasaray, appeared to be the target of the home side's aggression with Penarol striker Junior Arias reportedly seen chasing him with a corner flag in his hand.

Melo was also seen punching a Peñarol player in the face.

Violence also spread into the stands with rival fans fighting at the Campeon del Siglo stadium.

"We hope CONMEBOL [South American Football Confederation] will take action," Palmeiras president Mauricio Galiotte said as reported in Lance! newspaper. "Palmeiras came to play football, we played and we won the game."

Meanwhile, Penarol president Juan Pedro Damian blamed Palmeiras for starting the brawl.

"Felipe Melo started all the violence that occurred when he punched [Henry Matias] Mier," he said.

Making the situation even more chaotic was the fact that the players could not enter the changing rooms because the gate leading to them was closed off by stadium security.

Palmeiras had travelled with their own security guards and they were eventually able to open the gate for the players to leave the field.

"If Palmeiras had not brought 20 guards, we would have seen a tragedy here today," Galiotte said. "The gates were shut. I spoke to the Penarol president and to the CONMEBOL executives, and they said the gates were closed for security reasons.

"The players were going to die in there, in the battlefield! We hope that CONMEBOL will be more rigorous."

Palmeiras goalkeeper Fernando Prass believes his team was a victim of an ambush by Penarol. He told Lance: "It was all orchestrated. I went to protect Melo because he was their target.

"There was even a journalist with a tripod that was attacking people. We wanted to get out of there but the gates were shut and the security would not allow us to go through [to the changing room]."

A total of 30 people were detained, 18 police were injured and six police vehicles were damaged as part of the incidents, the Uruguay Interior Ministry said in a report on Thursday.

Adriana Garcia is a Valencia-based football writer who covers La Liga for ESPN FC.

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