Catolica, Velez take first leg advantage

Chilean giants Universidad Catolica took a very important step towards the Copa Libertadores quarter-finals with a 2-1 win away to Brazilian side Gremio in Porto Alegre on Tuesday night in the first leg of the sides' last-16 clash.

Lucas Pratto was the hero for Juan Antonio Pizzi's side as he netted either side of half-time to set Catolica up nicely for the second leg on 4 May. Pratto put the visitors ahead in the 29th minute, receiving possession from Marcelo Canete before he unleashed a right-foot strike.

Gremio forward Borges was sent off in the 35th minute for striking David Henriquez in the face with an elbow, but Douglas equalised for the hosts with a long-range shot just before the hour mark. The Chileans regained the lead with 15 minutes left as Pratto headed home Rodrigo Valenzuela's cross from the right.

The two-goal hero Pratto said afterwards: "Everybody was talking about Gremio beating us by a number of goals. We beat them on their own turf. We counter-attacked very well. Now, we should not relax. The score is good for us, but we must do our best in the second leg."

Catolica coach Pizzi added: "We beat great opponents. All our lines were solid tonight. We made the necessary difference and had almost no problems during the match."

In Buenos Aires, hosts Velez Sarsfield - who lead the Argentinian Clausura standings - hammered Ecuadorian giants Liga de Quito 3-0. Augusto Fernandez gave Velez a two-goal lead in the opening 11 minutes, adding the final touch to a Santiago Silva cross in the eighth minute to get the ball rolling.

Ten minutes after the break, Sebastian Dominguez headed home an Emiliano Papa cross from the left to give Velez a strong advantage heading into the second leg. Just before Velez's third, LDU midfielder Luis Bolanos was shown a second yellow card, while Neicer Reasco left his team with nine men with 21 minutes to go as he was dismissed for a bad foul on Papa.

Velez midfielder Fernandez told Fox Sports: "Scoring two goals is very important, but winning is even more vital. The three-goal lead is good in this round, but we could have scored one more."

The second leg of this tie will be played on 5 May in Quito.