It’s advantage Racing Club in the Copa Libertadores quarter-finals after Lorenzo Melgarejo’s powerful header gave La Academia a 1-0 first leg win over Boca Juniors in Avellaneda.
In a game of few clear chances Racing were the more controlled in possession and frustrated a below-par Boca side throughout until the one moment of real quality on the hour mark. Racing worked the ball out wide to Eugenio Mena on the left and his cross found Melgarejo unmarked at the backpost to beat the helpless Esteban Andrada.
Only for a brief moment towards the end of the first half did Boca look likely to rediscover their form when Sebastián Villa and Carlos Tevez threatened. Gabriel Arias was alert to any and all shots from distance and when Boca failed to increase their tempo after half time, the Racing goalkeeper became increasingly a spectator.
Racing were composed and kept their visitors at arms length without creating too many chances of their own but with the lead secured Sebastián Beccacece’s side take a healthy lead to La Bombonera. Without an away goal Boca know they must improve hugely if they are to turn the tie round and secure a meeting with Santos in the semi-final.
Meanwhile in the Copa Sudamericana, Defensa y Justicia finished the job against Brazilian side Bahia to reach the semi-final of a CONMEBOL competition for the first time in the club’s history.
Last week’s controversial VAR assisted 3-2 away win set the foundation for Hernán Crespo’s side and another goal from Braian Romero wrapped it up. Both sides had been reduced to ten men when three minutes from time, Romero was slipped in to score his sixth goal in as many games in the tournament.
With Chilean minnows Coquimbo Unido up next in the semi-finals, Defensa y Justicia have a very real opportunity to reach the final where they are certain to meet another Argentine club.