Caracas, Cruzeiro, Estudiantes, Gremio and Palmeiras all made their way into the quarter-finals of the Copa Libertadores 2009, where they will be joined by Nacional of Uruguay and Sao Paulo, who both earned byes following the withdrawal of their Mexican opponents. The remaining slot will be filled by Boca Juniors or Defensor Sporting, who played out a 2-2 draw in their first leg in Uruguay. FIFA.com reviews the midweek action from Latin America's premier club competition.
Game of the week
Defensor Sporting 2-2 Boca Juniors
Goals: Pablo Gaglianone 45, Rodrigo Mora 84 (Defensor Sporting); Martin Palermo 3, Rodrigo Palacio 56 (Boca Juniors)
This delayed first-leg meeting provided plenty of entertainment for the 30,000-plus crowd at the Estadio Centenario in Montevideo. Boca took the lead twice but were unable to hold on to their advantage, a moment's distraction at the back allowing Mora to level the tie in an exciting finale. Even so, the Argentinians have the edge going into next week's return leg in Buenos Aires.
Although Caracas were fancied to win this tie, what surprised everyone was the ease with which they disposed of their opponents. Inspired by some outstanding individual performances, Los Rojos de Ávila put on a stylish display awash with goals and good football, qualifying for the last eight of the tournament for the very first time and raising hopes that they could yet go further.
After reaching the knockout rounds with the best record of all the 16 qualifiers, Gremio had little trouble in overcoming San Martin for the second time in a week. Jonas and German Herrera were on target in an easy 2-0 win as the men from Porto Alegre, who will shortly unveil Paulo Autuori as their new coach, confirmed their position as firm title candidates.
Cruzeiro were another Brazilian side to enjoy a relatively straightforward passage to the quarters. Kleber scored the only goal of the night in Belo Horizonte as A Raposa eased to a 3-1 aggregate win over Universidad de Chile.
Estudiantes made sure their 3-0 lead from the first leg was never in danger as they played out a 0-0 draw with Libertad in Paraguay. El Pincha have now reached the last eight twice in the last four seasons.
Joining them there are Palmeiras, who were made to suffer before finally squeezing past compatriots Sport 3-1 on penalties. One-nil up from the first leg, O Verdão looked to be going through in normal time until Wilson equalised for Sport late on. Palmeiras keeper Marcos stood tall in the shootout, however, to send the visitors through.
Player of the week
The 36-year-old goalkeeper was his side's saviour in Recife. After making several crucial saves during the match itself, the 2002 FIFA World Cup Korea/Japan™ winner then kept out three penalties in the shootout.
0 - The number of times that Gremio have been knocked out in the last 16 of the Copa Libertadores. In addition to their latest victims San Martin, the Brazilians have ousted six other teams at this stage of the competition: Olimpia (1995 and 2003), Botafogo (1996), Guarani (1997), Nacional of Uruguay (1998), River Plate (2002) and Sao Paulo (2007).
What they said
"What are we here for? To keep on getting better. I've got every respect for Defensor Sporting but if I had to choose our opponents, I'd go for them and not Boca. That said, when we're on form we can give anyone a battle," Estudiantes defender Leandro Desabato
This week's results
Sport (BRA) 1-0 Palmeiras (BRA) (1-3 pens)
Caracas (VEN) 4-0 Deportivo Cuenca (ECU)
Gremio (BRA) 2-0 San Martin (PER)
Defensor Sporting (URU) 2-2 Boca Juniors (ARG)
Cruzeiro (BRA) 1-0 Universidad de Chile (CHI)
Libertad (PAR) 0-0 Estudiantes (ARG)
Estudiantes-Boca Juniors/Defensor Sporting