Santos earned a crucial away win, while Penarol made the most of their home advantage as the Copa Libertadores quarter-finals got underway.Santos – now short favourites for the crown after the elimination of several big-name clubs in the round-of-16 phase – put one foot in the semi-finals after Alan Patrick’s 42nd-minute strike handed them a 1-0 win at Colombian outfit Once Caldas on Wednesday.
Possessing several bright young stars – including heavily courted duo Neymar and Ganso – it was another prospect in winger Alan Patrick who made the biggest impact at the Colombian champions’ Estadio Palogrande with the only goal of the game.
Controlling Neymar’s pass as he made his way into the penalty area unattended, the Brazil Under-20 representative made no mistake with his right boot to put Santos in front.
Once Caldas’ attempts to reply were not helped by a second yellow card to Elke Calle in the 59th minute, ensuring the defender with miss the second leg in Brazil next Wednesday.
Uruguayan champions Penarol made their home advantage count in a 2-0 win over Chilean outfit Universidad Catolica at Estadio Centenario.
Strike duo Juan Manuel Olivera and Alejandro Martinuccio did the damage for Penarol, scoring in the 37th and 90th minute respectively to hand their side a sound advantage heading into the second leg.
Despite on-loan Boca Juniors forward Lucas Pratto leading the line – having scored six goals already in the competition – Catolica drew a blank and must now overturn the deficit in Santiago next Wednesday.
In the other two quarter-final ties, held on Thursday, Argentinia Primera Division outfit Velez Sarsfield are at home to Paraguayan club Libertad and Mexican side Jaguares host Paraguayan club Cerro Porteno.