On wet and windy evening at La Bombonera, Boca Juniors seized a first leg advantage with a 2-0 win over Libertad in the Copa Libertadores last 16 but after perhaps sensing their lead should have been greater, the visitors came within a whisker of snatching something.
Despite finishing second in their group Boca remain one of the clear favourites to lift the Libertadores. An already stacked squad has only been made stronger over the past month and so the returning hero Carlos Tevez is already reduced to role off the bench.
His replacement, or what many would consider an upgrade at this point of their careers, Mauro Zárate was instrumental in Boca’s victory and although Libertad demonstrated their threat at the death, it would be a colossal shock of the Superliga champions weren’t in the quarter finals.
It took six minutes for Boca to take the lead and while Libertad rightfully asked questions of referee Wilton Sampaio for an apparent handball by Paolo Goltz, when the ball bobbled into space Ramón Wanchope Abila’s finish was emphatic.
Before a fiery first half drew to a close Boca doubled their advantage. Zárate had a bit of luck initially as the ball bounced into his path but a neat one-two with Wanchope opened space and the controversial recent signing cut inside a defender to fire past Rodrigo Muñoz.
Boca were in control and should have added to the lead after the break with Wanchope, Zárate and Cristian Pavón all wasting good chances but as the game went on, Libertad grew in their belief that there was an away goal to be found.
Oscar Cardozo went close, a scramble in the six-yard box almost presented the visitors with a goal and Wilson Leiva rattled Estaban Andrada’s crossbar with a stinging long range effort but Boca held on for their lead.
The two side’s meet again in Asunción in three weeks and while Boca must not be complacent a quarter final against either Flamengo or Cruzeiro looks likely.
Cruzeiro look odds-on to be that opponent after a 2-0 win away against their Brazilian rivals. Giorgian De Arrascaeta and Thiago Neves with the goals.