Copa Libertadores: River Plate rue last minute penalty miss in Cruzeiro stalemate & Godoy Cruz let two-goal lead slip against Palmeiras (VIDEO)

Defending champions River Plate have it all to do next week in Belo Horizonte after a missed penalty in the last minute resulted in a goalless draw with Cruzeiro at the Monumental.

Matías Suárez stepped up deep in stoppage time after VAR had spotted a pull on the shirt of Lucas Pratto at a River corner. But the Argentina international blazed over the crossbar allowing Cruzeiro to leave Buenos Aires with a valuable draw ahead of next week’s second leg.

River had been the better side and threatened the Cruzeiro goal without carving out too many clear cut chances. With Juan Fernando Quintero still not back from his knee injury, Ignacio Scocco yet to return and Lucas Pratto only fit for a place on the bench, Los Millonarios were lacking a little in attack.

Even when their injury woes worsened and Javier Pinola was forced off during the first half to be replaced by Robert Rojas, Cruzeiro were not able to trouble Franco Armani.

The visitors did have the ball in the net early in the second half and thought they had snatched an away goal only for the linesman’s flag to deny Marquinhos Gabriel by the thinnest of margins.

Pratto did eventually enter the fray and caused problems for Cruzeiro and after one penalty claim for handball was waved away, River did eventually get their break. Stepping over the mark in their efforts to halt Pratto, the Brazilians gifted River a penalty in the 97th minute but just when it looked as though Marcelo Gallardo’s side would again be snatching victory in the Libertadores, Súarez fluffed his lines.

The two sides meet again next Tuesday with a place in the quarter-finals on the line.

A little later in Mendoza and Godoy Cruz were also left to rue a penalty miss as Palmeiras earned a 2-2 draw that makes the Brazilians firm favourites next week.

A blistering start at the Estadio Malvinas Argentinas saw Santiago García head Godoy Cruz in front and although Palmeiras always looked threatening it was the home side that took a two-goal lead before the half-hour mark. A brisk attack that began with goalkeeper Andrés Mehring eventually found García through on goal and the Uruguayan emphatically finished past Weverton.

Felipe Melo swiftly headed a goal back for Palmeiras only for a tug of García’s shirt by the experienced Gustavo Gómez to present El Morro with the opportunity for a hat-trick.

Weverton could do nothing with García’s first two chances but stuck out a leg to deny the centre forward from the penalty spot.

This proved costly for El Tomba with Palmeiras continuing to push forward after the break and eventually finding the equaliser, Miguel Borja with a wonderful turn and finish.

Neither could find a winner and while Godoy Cruz were huge underdogs in the tie they will feel disappointed that they are not travelling to São Paulo next week with a lead.

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