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River PlateRiver Plate
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Gignac's gruesome foot

The Toe Poke
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U.A.N.LU.A.N.L
River PlateRiver Plate
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Leg 1
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 By Tim Vickery

Copa Libertadores qualifying rounds bring plenty of drama

Huracan's last-gasp win with 10 men at Caracas was just one notable result in the Copa Lib qualifying round.

The two-week qualifying round has certainly whetted the appetite for the group phase of the Copa Libertadores, which gets underway next Tuesday. The competition lacks much of the quality and polish of its European equivalent, the Champions League. Nevertheless, it remains compulsive viewing and the past fortnight has provided a few reminders.

The Drama

The Caracas pitch was a disgrace for the side from the Venezuelan capital's home game against Huracan of Argentina. The crowd was sparse in Asuncion's...

Huracan's Toranzo did not lose toes in bus crash - president

Huracan players Patricio Toranzo and Diego Mendoza suffered injuries after the team bus overturned.

Huracan president Alejandro Nadur has denied reports that midfielder Patricio Toranzo had his toes amputated after the team bus crashed on Wednesday.

Huracan were in Venezuela for the second leg of their Copa Libertadores qualifier against Caracas FC and were travelling to the airport after the game when the brakes on the bus failed, causing it to flip over.

The club's physiotherapist, Sebastian Tartarones, said the bus had "lost its brakes" and slid down an emergency ramp on the Caracas-La Guaira...

 By Tim Vickery

Sao Paulo, Racing favourites to progress to Libertadores group phase

Bruno & Alejandro Hohberg
Bruno, left, vies for the ball against Alejandro Hohberg in Sao Paulo's first leg clash with Cesar Vallejo.

The field of 38 clubs in this year's Copa Libertadores, South America's equivalent of the Champions League, contains a grand total of 15 former winners. Two of them, though, have to sweat through the qualifying round, which kicked off last week and concludes this, before they can take their place in the group stage

One of them, Sao Paulo of Brazil, will feel that they have a foot and a half in the next phase. In last Wednesday's first leg, they drew 1-1 away to Cesar Vallejo of Peru.

The result,...

 By Tim Vickery

South American clubs seize on CONMEBOL weakness in Copa Lib

New CONMEBOL president Alejandro Dominguez is already feeling the heat from clubs in the Copa Libertadores.

CONMEBOL, the South American Confederation, proudly announced recently that they were increasing the money paid to teams competing in the Copa Libertadores, the continent's Champions League equivalent. Instead of $300,000, the clubs would now receive $600,000 for each game in the group stage. But this was no spontaneous act of generosity -- the prize money has been doubled as a consequence of pressure from the clubs... and it still might not be enough.

A league of South American...