Copa Libertadores: Two penalties put River Plate in quarter-final driving seat against Cerro Porteño (VIDEO)

The countdown to the Superclásico semi-final is already well underway after River Plate followed up Boca Juniors’ Copa Libertadores victory on Tuesday with a quarter-final win of their own over Cerro Porteño.

A pair of penalties converted by Ignacio Fernández and Rafael Santos Borré gave River a deserved first leg advantage to take to Ascunsión and barring a remarkable turnaround sets up a colossal repeat of last year’s Libertadores final.

Not since Boca won back-to-back titles in 2001 have a side successfully defended the Copa Libertadores and it’s the bitter rivals that could stand in River’s way as Marcelo Gallardo’s title defence edged a step closer.

A perfect start on Thursday evening in the Monumental saw River take the lead after only a few minutes. A VAR review spotted a foul on Nicolás de la Cruz in a crowded penalty area and despite Cerro Porteño’s protests, Fernández slammed in the opener emphatically.

River should have extended their lead and thought they had just after the break when Fernández finished off a sweeping counter only for a VAR review to cancel it out for a Matías Suárez handball in the build-up.

But they didn’t have to wait long. Goalkeeper Juan Carrizo brought down Exequiel Palacios and Santos Borré this time made no mistake from the spot.

Cerro Porteño came from behind to eliminate San Lorenzo in the previous round but will find River a far sterner test. Next Thursday Buenos Aires will know for certain if another Superclásico is coming to town.

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