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By ESPN Staff

Copa Libertadores: River Plate stage fight back

RIO DE JANEIRO, March 15 (Reuters) - River Plate, trailing 1-0 and down to 10 men at halftime, fought back to drew 1-1 at LDU to keep their Libertadores Cup campaign alive on Thursday.

Gremio, another of the pre-tournament favourites, went down to a shock 1-0 defeat at Colombian provincial side Deportes Tolima in another of Thursday's game.

The results completed a bad week for the favourites after Boca Juniors lost 2-0 to Toluca on Wednesday and titleholders Internacional were thumped 3-0 by Velez Sarsfield.

River badly needed a good result in Quito at 2,800 metres above sea level after losing 1-0 at home to Venezuela's Caracas FC last week.

But the Argentines found themselves on the ropes after an awful first-half performance.

Midfielder Enrique Vera put the Ecuadorean hosts ahead in the 15th minute as he burst past two players, held off another challenge and fired past goalkeeper Juan Carrizo.

River were in more trouble when midfielder Rubens Sambueza was sent off five minutes before halftime for a vicious lunge at Vera's knee.

But fortunes quickly turned after the break.

LDU striker Luis Escalada was sent off in the 50th minute, picking up yellow cards in the same incident for deliberate handball followed by dissent, and River levelled four minutes later.

Leonardo Ponzio mis-hit a 25-metre shot but the ball fell kindly for team mate Ernesto Farias, who scored with a strike on the turn.

LDU and River, who shared nine yellow cards and two reds in a rough game, are level on four points from three games in Group Six, two behind Caracas who have played a game less.

Chilean champions Colo Colo are bottom with no points.

Tolima went top of Group Three with their surprise win over Brazil's Gremio, winners in 1983 and 1985.

Jorge Perlaza scored the winner in the 34th minute when he tapped in the rebound after Gremio goalkeeper Sebastian Saja could only parry John Charria's swerving 30-metre shot.

Gremio failed to seriously test Tolima goalkeeper Agustin Julio as they lost for the first time in 14 matches in all competitions this year.

The referee missed an ugly second-half incident when Tolima forward Darwin Quintero, involved in continuous provocation with his markers, punched Patricio in the back of the neck in an off-the-ball tussle.