Cruzeiro and Estudiantes gained the upper hand in the semi-finals of the 50th Copa Libertadores, earning first-leg leads over Gremio and Nacional of Uruguay with respective 3-1 and 1-0 wins. FIFA.com rounds up the latest action in Latin America's leading club competition.
One of Cruzeiro's great strengths in this current Copa campaign has been their ability to strike at exactly the right time, as they showed once more against Gremio. Just as the visitors were enjoying their best spell of the game, with Maxi Lopez and Souza posing a serious threat up front, Wellington Paulista took full toll of some sleepy defending at a corner kick to put Cruzeiro ahead.
Things got even worse for Gremio immediately after the break when Wagner added a second. It was only after they fell even further behind that O Tricolor Gaúcho finally got back into the game, Souza's delightful free-kick giving them renewed hope ahead of next week's second leg.
Man of the match
Marquinhos Parana (Cruzeiro)
With his midfielders struggling to make headway, the 31-year-old wing-back provided a reliable outlet on the right, pushing forward at every opportunity and causing countless problems to the visiting defence. Parana capped his fine display by setting up Fabinho for Cruzeiro's third.
100 per cent - Cruzeiro's record in Belo Horizonte in this year's Copa. A Raposa have won all six of their games at the Mineirao, scoring 13 goals and letting in only two.
What they said
"I'm surprised we passed up the opportunity to finish the game off in the first half. We were putting together some good moves and creating chances but we made some unforgivable mistakes in front of goal. That is a luxury you cannot afford when you're away from home. Even so, we'll have a great chance of going through if we can play like that again in Porto Alegre," Gremio coach Paulo Cesar Autuori.
Estudiantes 1-0 Nacional
Goal: Diego Galvan 14
El Pincha got their recompense for an excellent 15-minute spell in the first half when Diego Galvan rounded off a rapid three-pass move with a fine stooping header. That was the highpoint of the hosts' display, however, as a combination of Nacional's high work rate and an untimely injury to Juan Sebastian Veron caused them to lose impetus.
The Uruguayans even carved out two fine second-half opportunities, with Santiago Garcia heading wide from point-blank range from a corner and Gustavo Bizcayzacu shooting straight at keeper Mariano Andujar on the turn. Eventually shrugging off Veron's departure, Estudiantes regained control of the match late on, though their failure to add a second goal leaves the tie wide open.
Man of the match
Rodrigo Munoz (Nacional)
The Nacional keeper showed his worth in La Plata, pulling off four smart saves, three in the first half and one in the closing stages of the match. El Bolso can thank the fearless 27-year-old custodian for the fact they returned to Uruguay only one goal down and still very much in the tie.
725- The number of minutes Estudiantes have now gone since Leider Preciado of Deportivo Quito scored against them in Ecuador, the last goal they conceded in the Copa. El Pincha have yet to let a goal in at their La Plata stronghold, where they have now won seven matches out of seven in this year's competition.
What they said
"I'm happy with the result because we won and kept a clean sheet too. If you look back at the game, though, we obviously should have won by a bigger margin. My biggest concern now is getting the injured players fit again for the return leg," Estudiantes coach Alejandro Sabella