Penarol 1, Velez 0 in Libertadores first leg semi
Penarol of Uruguay took a big step toward a record 10th appearance in a Copa Libertadores final by winning 1-0 at home against Argentina's Velez Sarsfield in Thursday's semifinal first leg.
Veteran defender Dario Rodriguez headed a looping corner kick behind Velez keeper Marcelo Barovero with only 30 seconds left in the first half to give the Uruguay side the decisive goal.
''It's a small advantage, but we knew it was going to be a match like this,'' said Rodriguez, who is in his second spell with the Montevideo giants after six seasons with Schalke in Germany.
Velez Sarsfield, the Argentine league leaders, had much of the possession in the first half and could have scored a couple of times, but Penarol goalkeeper Sebastian Sosa came up with several key saves at Centenario Stadium. Penarol scored the unexpected goal and had a few other moments, hitting the post midway through the first half.
Velez stuggled in the second half as Penarol - which is currently tied with Argentina's Boca Juniors with nine Libertadores final appearances - gained confidence as the match wore on. Penarol managed to neutralize Velez's top three players - Maxi Moralez, Juan Manuel Martinez and Santiago Silva.
Brazilian club Santos also had a 1-0 home win against Paraguay's Cerro Porteno on Wednesday in the other semifinal first leg. Santos and Velez are favorites to progress when the second-leg matches are played next week in South America's top club tournament.