Copa Sudamericana: Sand helps Lanús to late win for São Paulo, Defensa y Justicia take first leg advantage & Vélez held by Peñarol

Lanús will take an important first leg lead to Brazil next week thanks in large part to the predatory instincts of veteran striker José Sand. The 40-year-old struck twice at La Fortaleza to give El Granate a dramatic 3-2 win over São Paulo ahead of next Wednesday’s clash at Morumbi.

The visitors had struck first against the run of play when Luciano broke clear and squared for Brenner to roll in but there was always a sense that Lanús could hurt São Paulo during a first half in which Luis Zubeldía certainly didn’t look like the team that hadn’t played in seven months.

Sand characteristically equalised shortly after the break having not lost his ability to find space in the six-yard box and anticipate where the ball may just bobble into.

São Paulo improved and Lanús were required to ride their luck a little when Dani Alves clattered the crossbar and Brenner had a second ruled out for the slimmest of offside margins.

That proved to be a turning point. With Brazilian anger still bubbling from that decision, Nicolás Orsini headed the ball to Sand who expertly swivelled to turn in his second five minutes from time.

The drama didn’t end there though. A rare moment of quality from the visitors saw Luciano flick the ball into the path of the impressive Brenner to smash into the top corner and when it looked as though both sides would have to settle for a draw, Facundo Quignón found space to loop a headed winner past Tiago Volpi.

São Paulo’s two away goals mean the tie remains in the balance but Lanús’ youngsters led by veteran Sand provided plenty of reasons for optimism.

Elsewhere, Defensa y Justicia picked up a 2-1 win over Sportivo Lequeño.

A remarkable halfway line shot from Aldo Vera gave the Paraguayans an early lead but the same player would hand Defensa y Justicia their equaliser on the half hour mark, the ball ricocheting off the midfielder into the net.

Braian Romero continued his dazzling form since joining on loan from Independiente slotting El Halcón in front and that proved enough. Defensa y Justicia let a place in the Copa Libertadores last 16 slip but surely have one foot in the next round of the Sudamericana ahead of next week’s second leg in Florencio Varela.

While arguably the second round’s biggest tie between Vélez Sarsfield and Peñarol ended goalless.

Vélez beginning life under Mauricio Pellegrino were far from their best and the Uruguayans twice hit the woodwork. All to play for in Montevideo next week.