Nacional, Gremio advance to semis
© AFP

Nacional became the first Uruguayan side to reach the last four of the Copa Libertadores in 20 years, after playing out a goalless draw at home to Palmeiras in the second leg of the quarter-finals. Holding a slender advantage after a 1-1 draw in Brazil last month, the Montevideo giants frustrated their visitors at the Centenario with a resolute defensive display.

Palmeiras exerted much of the pressure but could find no way past goalkeeper Rodrigo Munoz, who was in inspired form as he kept out a free-kick by Willians and stopped an Obina header. Keirrison also went close for the Paulista side with a long-range shot that flew just over the crossbar.

All the media are asking why we defended throughout, but that doesn't matter as it has put a Uruguayan team in the semi-finals for the first time in 20 years.
Nacional coach Gerardo Pelusso following his side's 0-0 draw at home to Palmeiras

The result made Nacional the first Uruguayan club since Danubio in 1989 to reach the Libertadores semi-finals, and coach Gerardo Pelusso made no excuses for his team's defensive approach. "All the media here are asking why we defended throughout the game, but that doesn't matter as it has put a Uruguayan team in the semi-finals for the first time in 20 years," he said.

Nacional, who won the last of their three Libertadores titles in 1988, will face either compatriots Defensor Sporting or Argentina's Estudiantes in the last four. The latter will visit Montevideo tonight holding a slender 1-0 lead from the first leg in La Plata.

Gremio do enough
In the other match on Wednesday, Gremio also advanced to the semi-finals after holding Caracas to a 0-0 draw in Brazil. The Venezuelans went close to dumping out the Porto Alegre side when Gabriel Cichero's 84th-minute effort went just wide.

But Paulo Cesar Autori's team survived and face an all-Brazilian semi-final against either Sao Paulo or Cruzeiro, who will take a 2-1 lead into tonight's second leg at the Morumbi.