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Copa Libertadores wrap: Bernard hat-trick fires Mineiro

Atletico Mineiro striker Bernard scored a hat-trick as his team completed a stunning 5-2 win away to Arsenal in the Copa Libertadores.

Atletico Mineiro striker Bernard scored a hat-trick as his team completed a stunning 5-2 win away to Arsenal in the Copa Libertadores.

Despite going behind early in Argentina, Atletico Mineiro took charge in the first half before Nicolas Aguirre’s brilliant free-kick dragged Arsenal within a goal just before half-time.

But with Bernard scoring twice after the break to complete his hat-trick, Atletico Mineiro cruised to victory, moving three points clear at the top of Group 3.

Arsenal gave their home fans early joy in the second minute when Aguirre sent Julio Furch through on goal and the 23-year-old striker made no mistake.

Just five minutes later, the visitors from Brazil hit back with Ronaldinho chipping the ball expertly over Arsenal’s defence to Bernard, who finished well.

In the 29th minute, Leandro Donizete teed up Diego Tardelli for Atletico Mineiro’s second goal and with nine minutes left before half-time, Jo made it 3-1 for the visitors with a smart volley.

Aguirre capped off a pulsating first half in fine fashion when he produced a wicked, curving free-kick in the 41st minute, which found the top corner of the net.

Any chance of an Arsenal comeback was effectively over 14 minutes into the second half as Bernard completed his hat-trick.

The pint-sized 20-year-old first burst through Arsenal’s defence to fire the ball home in the 54th minute and then five minutes later tapped home the rebound after Jo’s effort was saved.

Tuesday’s win takes Atletico Mineiro to six points from two games, three points clear of Bolivia’s The Strongest at the top of Group 3.

Velez Sarsfield stunned Penarol at home late on to win 1-0 and take top spot in Group 4.

With 86 minutes gone in Uruguay, Lucas Pratto scored after a powerful run and cross from Jonathan Copete to give Velez Sarsfield victory.

In other Copa Libertadores results, Real Garcilaso knocked off Deportes Tolima 1-0, while Tijuana smashed San Jose 4-0.

Wed 27 February, 2013
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