Catolica, Velez win through
© AFP

Chilean giants Universidad Catolica were forced to battle hard, but they finally beat compatriots Union Espanola 2-1 to win Group 4 and qualify for the last 16 of the Copa Libertadores.

The first half was largely uneventful, with very few goal chances for either side. Indeed, not until the 40th minute did the first decent strike arrive, a long-range shot by Catolica's Pablo Calandria which keeper Eduardo Lobos just saved.

The second half could barely have been more different - just one minute after the break Union Espanola took the lead, after Esteban Gonzalez crossed from the right for Kevin Harbottle to open the scoring. Two minutes later Calandria equalised after latching onto an assist by Marcelo Canete. In the 78th minute, more good work from Canete set up the second goal as his shot was deflected past Lobos by Diego Scotti.

The other ticket to the second stage from Group 4 went to Velez Sarsfield of Argentina, who claimed a great win in Venezuela, 3-0 over Caracas, to eliminate their opponents. Maximiliano Moralez opened the scoring in the first half, and Uruguayan striker Santiago Silva secured the win with two goals early in the second period.

"We're playing at a good level. We won and we qualified," said Silva. "It was very tough, the pitch was in bad condition and the trip from Argentina was a very long one. That's why this victory is so valuable. Now we have to continue in the same way."

In the Group 2, Junior of Colombia secured top spot, relegating Brazilian side Gremio into second place. Both teams had already secured their spots in the next stage. Junior drew 1-1 with Peru's Leon de Huanuco. Jossimar Gomez opened the scoring for the Colombians and Orlando Rodriguez equalised.

Gremio, who needed a victory to have any chance of winning the group, where surprisingly outplayed in Bolivia by Oriente Petrolero, losing 3-0. Nicolas Fernandez, Fernando Saucedo and Juan Carlos Arce scored.

Finally, in a Group 5 match, Brazilian side Santos earned a key win in Paraguay, 2-1 over Cerro Porteno. Danilo and Maikon Leite scored for the visitors, while Pedro Benitez narrowed the gap in injury time. With one round to go, both teams are level on eight points, one behind Chilean leaders Colo Colo.