MONTEVIDEO – Brazilian club Atletico Mineiro beat Uruguay’s Defensor Sporting 2-0 on Wednesday in the first leg of their Copa Libertadores third-stage qualifying tie at the Luis Franzini Stadium in Montevideo.
The visitors scored the first goal of the match in the 11th minute, when Mineiro captain Rever took advantage of a precise free throw by Juan Cazares and beat the Defensor goalie through a strong header.
Defensor launched a counter attack immediately and came close to equalizing in the 15th minute when a deft run by forward Pablo Lopez ended with a shot that went above the crossbar.
Two minutes later, Mineiro also had a chance to double their lead when Ricardo Oliveira entered the opposition’s penalty box and beat goalkeeper Rodriguez, only to have his shot stopped on the line by local defender Maximiliano Perg.
In the 43rd minute, an attacking move by Luan and Cazares ended with a pass to Oliveira, whose shot missed the right goalpost by a whisker.
The second half began quietly with none of the teams able to produce chances for the first few minutes.
The first real chance came in the 51st minute when Oliveira’s powerful shot again went past the right post.
With 69 minutes on the board, Pablo Lopez – who was later substituted by Facundo Milan – utilized a defensive error to steal the ball from Mineiro, only to shoot above the crossbar.
In the 79th minute, a deep run by Patric on the right flank culminated in a cross inside the area, which was headed in by Cazares to give the Brazilians their second goal.
The last dangerous play of the game came during extra time when a long-range shot by Cazares hit the crossbar.
The second leg of the tie will now be played in Brazil on Feb. 27.
Mineiro, the 2013 Copa Libertadores champions coached by Levir Culpi, will be hoping to maintain the deficit in the home leg to move to the group stage after failing to qualify for the tournament in 2018.
While Defensor, whose best performance in the tournament came in 2014 when they reached the semifinals, will hope to change their fortune in the away leg and at least match their 2018 performance, when they were eliminated in the group stage.