Libertad march into Copa quarters
Paraguayan side Libertad booked their place in the Copa Libertadores quarter-finals with a 2-0 home victory over Mexican outfit Cruz Azul in the second leg of their last-16 tie.
Libertad were on the front foot from the outset at the Estadio Nicolas Leoz as they looked to press home their advantage after a 1-1 draw in last week's away leg. And they got their reward in the 10th minute when Jose-Ariel Nunez headed home a Victor Ayala free-kick from the right.
Another free-kick by Ayala five minutes into the second half was met by Victor Caceres, who directed his header past Cruz Azul goalkeeper Jose de Jesus Corona to seal a 3-1 aggregate triumph.
Corona kept the scoreline respectable for Cruz Azul by making a couple of decent saves from Nunez efforts, but the visitors could find no way back.
Ayala told Fox Sports that the draw in Mexico had been key to winning the tie.
"We knew the result in the first match was crucial and tonight we did a good job," he said. "We waited for Cruz Azul to step forward on the field and we knew the goal was about to come. We only had to wait for the opportunity. We are in quarter-finals, but now we hope we can get further in the tournament."
Libertad will face either Universidad de Chile or Ecuador's Deportivo Quito in the last eight. The Ecuadorian side won the first leg 4-1 last week and meet in the second leg in Santiago on Thursday night.
Meanwhile in Argentina, hosts Velez Sarsfield advanced after a 1-1 draw against Atletico Nacional secured a 2-1 aggregate victory.
Velez, 1-0 winners in Colombia last week, stretched their overall lead in the 52nd minute on Tuesday night when Augusto Fernandez prodded home the rebound after Alejandro Cabral's shot had hit the post.
Luis-Fernando Mosquera's free-kick midway through the second half gave Atletico hope and ensured a nervy ending for the hosts, but they held on.
Velez midfielder Francisco Cerro accepted his team had not had it all their own way.
"Nacional are a talented team, difficult to mark,'' he told Fox Sports. "We were unable to impose our style on the field during the 180 minutes of the tie.
"In Colombia, we played more defensively. Tonight, more offensively, but I highlight we were organised."
Next up for Velez will be defending champions Santos of Brazil or Bolivar. The Bolivian side lead 2-1 after the first leg.