The Argentine side Newell’s Old Boys defeated Atletico Mineiro in a dominant display in the first leg of the Copa Libertadores semi-finals.
During the first half Atletico Mineiro saw a good bit of the ball and created some chances, with leader and star man Ronaldinho creating a few wonderfully orchestrated attacks that were close to finding the net.
Newell’s Old Boys were also dangerous, looking deadly on the counter-attack and driven forward by a packed home stadium and a relentless chant by fans.
By the second half both sides were starting to slow down.
Constant team-pressing from the home team saw Atletico Mineiro go one down to a well struck header by Maxi Rodriguez in the 61st minute of the match.
An aggressive match that saw several free-kicks and several yellow cards allowed Newell’s Old Boys to score again from a set piece late in the second half through Ignacio Scocco.
Ignacio curled the ball beautifully around the wall, leaving Mineiro keeper Victor utterly helpless.
Atletico Mineiro tried to fight back with head coach Cuca making a couple of changes before the end. None of his substitutes seemed to make a difference. Brazil international striker Jo had scored, only for the goal to be ruled out for offside.
Minas Gerais champions Ateltico Mineiro now have a big task in front of them when they play the second leg in Rio next Thursday.
A resurgent Ronaldinho was making passes and creating chances for his team-mates throughout the match. Early in the first half, a masterful through-ball found its way to Bernard, who flopped and failed to put Mineiro ahead.
Newell’s Old Boys recorded a deserved win. Their fast, attacking football now puts the Argentine Club in a favourable position - and a draw, or loss by one goal is enough to put them through to the final.
Mineiro need to look to their midfield and bring in more effective members to help bring the ball from box-to-box, as forwards Ronaldinho and Jo appeared isolated for a large part of the match.
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