River won and is at an advantage in the playoff series Marcelo Gallardo’s team fairly beat Nacional 2-0, with goals by Gonzalo Montiel and Bruno Zuculini, and now seeks to qualify for the CONMEBOL Libertadores semifinals in Montevideo.

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River welcomed Montevideo’s Nacional in the first leg of the Libertadores quarterfinals. The first minutes of the match were closely contested, the Uruguayan team was staying close to its goal and el Millionario was trying to set the pace of the game. The goal situations were brought about by Gonzalo Bergessio and Nicolás De La Cruz (facing him, the goalkeeper saved the shot).

Then, Rafael Borré fired a volley off a center pass from Gonzalo Montiel coming from the right, but it went out of the field. Matías Suárez was awarded a penalty kick and the Colombian forward took over, but Sergio Rochet read his mind and saved it. In the following play, Nacional disturbed River with a shot from afar by Emiliano Martínez. In the last one, Suárez escaped, and fired a shot towards the first goalpost, but the referee, as a result of the VAR, disallowed the goal because of an offside position.

Right after the second half had begun, in a great collective play, Borré was not able to score off a center pass from De La Cruz, after the triangulation with Jorge Carrascal and Nacho Fernández. In another play, after a good recovery by Montiel, Suárez received the ball at the edge of the box and tapped it with his right foot, but the shot was slightly deflected by Rochet’s right goalpost.

With River clearly dominating the game, in one of the many approaches, Laborda touched the ball with his hand and, because of the VAR, Andrés Rojas awarded River another penalty kick. Montiel took it, fired low and calmly, and set the score at 1-0 in favor of el Millionario at the Libertadores de América stadium.

Gallardo’s team kept going for the second goal and it paid off in the last play of the match: after another excellent collective move, Suárez made a center pass to Bruno Zuculini and the midfielder scored a header, widening the lead.

Next week, el Millionario will play the second leg in Montevideo, having the lead and the incentive of not having conceded any goals as home team. The winner of this bracket will play the semifinals against the winner of the match between Brazil’s Palmeiras and Paraguay’s Libertad.

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