There is plenty of football still to be played but holders Grêmio took a significant step towards returning to the Copa Libertadores final with victory over River Plate at the Monumental on Tuesday.
The meeting of two fine defensive units the onus was very much on Marcelo Gallardo’s side not least as they hosted the first leg in Buenos Aires but because Grêmio were without their two main attacking threats, Everton and Luan, through injury.
In their absence Renato Gaucho’s side produced a defensive display of tremendous discipline and content with shutting down River, Grêmio would end up with far more than just a useful draw.
Having reduced River to little more than efforts from distance, Grêmio snatched a vital away goal on the hour mark, Michel heading in an Alisson corner at the near post.
Even after going behind River could find no way through the impressive central defensive pairing of Pedro Geromel and Walter Kannemann and aside from a Juan Fernando Quintero free-kick palmed away by Marcelo Grohe, Grêmio were able to see out the win.
Kannemann will miss next week’s second leg in Porto Alegre but River must be far better if they are to overturn the one-goal deficit.