Brazil’s Cruzeiro put themselves in a strong position to claim a third Libertadores Cup title when they ground out a scoreless draw at Estudiantes in a scrappy first leg of the final in La Plata on Wednesday.
Brazil national team goalkeeper Fabio shone for the visitors with five brilliant saves, including two from Estudiantes danger man Juan Sebastian Veron in the first half, before Cruzeiro almost snatched a late winner.
Despite the disappointing outcome, the Argentine side did manage to complete all their home games without conceding a goal and will still fancy their chances of causing an upset in the second leg in Belo Horizonte on Wednesday.
It was a tactical victory for the Brazilians who packed their midfield, cut the ball supply to Estudiantes’ forwards and reduced the Argentine side to counterattacks and set pieces to try and force a breakthrough.
Niggling fouls on both sides took the flow out of the game, with Cruzeiro penalized 28 times and Estudiantes 23 times. The home side also failed to take advantage of 10 corners.
“We had the best chances ... but their goalkeeper had his night,” said Veron, whose side are looking for a fourth victory in the competition for Estudiantes.
Man of the match Fabio, Cruzeiro’s captain, said: “It’s a good result, the team played well, it was very difficult. We even had chances to score. My hardest save was in the first half face-to-face [with Perez].”
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