Former champions LDU Quito’s bad-tempered display has them on the cusp of a Copa Libertadores exit, while Gremio also face elimination.
The Ecuadorian club has made a name for itself as a consistent performer on the continental stage in recent seasons, having won the tournament in 2008, the Copa Sudamericana in 2009 and the Recopa Sudamericana in 2008 and 2009.
But LDU’s 3-0 loss to Velez Sarsfield in the first leg of their knockout-stage tie on Tuesday has them staring down the barrel of an early exit.
Argentine opponents Velez dictated proceedings from start to finish in front of their home fans at the Estadio Jose Amalfitani in Buenos Aires.
The Argentinian Primera Division Clausura leaders could have won by a greater margin had they capitalised on a dominant final 20 minutes, when they heaped the pressure on a LDU outfit down to nine men.
A three-minute brace from winger Augusto Fernandez had Velez up 2-0 after just 11 minutes, though they had to wait until the 55th minute for the game’s killer goal.
That came from the head of defender Sebastian Dominguez, less than a minute after LDU striker Luis Bolanos was dismissed for an ill-advised tackle while already on a yellow card for diving.
The furrows on the brow of LDU manager Edgardo Bauza – against the club he managed in 2001 and 2002 – only deepened when defender Neicer Reasco followed Bolanos down the tunnel for a high-booted tackle that raked down the groin of Emiliano Ramiro on 69 minutes.
Agdardo would have found little solace in his side not conceding for the remainder of the game, despite Fabian Cubero’s shot needing to be cleared off the line by Jose Luis Valencia and Fernandez going close to claiming a hat-trick.
It leaves LDU with a mountain to scale in next Wednesday’s second leg.
Elsewhere, it was a night to forget for Gremio in front of their fans at Estadio Olimpico Monumental, who crucially conceded a 2-1 loss at home to Universidad Catolica and lost the services of key striker Borges for the return leg.
Borges – scorer of seven goals in his club’s Campeonato Gaucho campaign – was sent off for violent conduct after elbowing his opponent in the face after 34 minutes, hardly helping his side’s bid to come back from falling behind six minutes earlier.
Catolica midfielder Marcelo Canete split the defence with a well-weighted pass to fellow Argentine Lucas Pratto, and the striker made no mistake to bury his shot past Gremio goalkeeper Marcelo Grohe.
The home side found a way back into the match despite their numerical disadvantage when attacking midfielder Douglas struck on 59 minutes.
But Pratto’s brace – claimed with his second on 75 minutes – handed the Chilean side a superb away win ahead of the second leg in Santiago next Wednesday.
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