Velez crush Libertad to reach Liberetadores semi-finals

Buenos Aires: Velez Sarsfield underlined their Libertadores Cup favourites tag with an emphatic 4-2 win at Libertad that carried them into the semi-finals.

Midfielder Maxi Moralez scored their first two goals against the Paraguayan side at the Defensores del Chaco in Asuncion as Velez`s quarter-final second leg victory put them through 7-2 on aggregate.

"This is a team that can achieve great things," Moralez, voted man of the match, told reporters.

Trailing 3-0 after the first leg, Libertad took the lead one minute before halftime when midfielder Rodrigo Rojas volleyed home a cross from the left with goalkeeper Marcelo Barovero rooted to the spot.

Velez, South American champions in 1994, hit back immediately when Moralez ran on to fellow midfielder Victor Zapata`s through ball to shoot past keeper Tobias Vargas less than a minute later.

Striker Manuel Maciel restored the home side`s lead six minutes into the second half with a hard drive from the left across the face of goal and past the diving Barovero into bottom corner.

The Argentine side`s second equaliser came in the 67th minute from a fine attack on the left with Moralez passing to Emiliano Papa and receiving the defender`s back-heel in his stride to shoot past Vargas.

Vargas then turned a shot from Velez substitute midfielder David Ramirez onto the bar before the Argentine side sealed victory with two goals in the final four minutes.

Former Mexico striker Guillermo Franco, who came on in the 63rd minute in his comeback from surgery on a knee injury three months ago, converted a penalty after bring brought down.

Finally, midfielder Augusto Fernandez sidestepped a challenge in the middle of the box before rifling a deflected shot high into the net.

Brazil`s Santos were at home to Once Caldas in a later kickoff with the teams level at 1-1 from the first leg in Colombia.

Five times champions Penarol of Uruguay take a 2-0 lead to Santiago Thursday for the second leg against Universidad Catolica, while Cerro Porteno host Chiapas in Asuncion following last week`s 1-1 draw in Mexico.

Bureau Report

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