Cruzeiro, Estudiantes and Cuenca win in first leg

MONTERREY: Cruzeiro of Brazil, Estudiantes of Argentina and Ecuadorean club Deportivo Cuenca scored valuable first leg victories in the Copa Libertadores knockout round Thursday.

Cruzeiro outclassed Universidad de Chile with a 2-1 away victory, Estudiantes beat Libertad of Paraguay 3-0 at home and Cuenca came from behind to beat Venezuelan club Caracas 2-1 in Ecuador.

The return legs will be played next week to decide berths for the quarterfinals.

Palmeiras beat fellow Brazilian club Sport Recife 1-0 at home Tuesday, while another Brazilian club Gremio secured a 3-0 away victory against Universidad San Martin of Peru on Wednesday in this week's other knockout round first leg fixtures.

Estudiantes striker Mauro Boselli produced the stand out performance of Thursday's matches with two goals in his club's victory over Libertad.

Boselli's first goal came from a penalty after a linesman wrongly judged Libertad defender Miguel Samudio had tripped Marcos Angeleri in the box. Samudio was shown a second yellow card for disputing the decision and left the pitch in tears as Boselli converted the 64th minute spot kick.

Gaston Fernandez had opened the scoring after just 30 seconds and Boselli headed the Argentine club's third from a Juan Sebastian Veron cross in the 69th minute.

Libertad was the first team to qualify for the knockout round from the group stage, but will need an unlikely turnaround in Asuncion to progress further.

In Santiago, Soares opened the scoring for Cruzeiro against Universidad after eight minutes before Marquinhos gave the Brazilian club a two-goal lead six minutes into the second half. Manuel Villalobos cut the deficit after 85 minutes, but Universidad defender Rafael Olarra was sent off two minutes later, leaving Cruzeiro the comfortable winner.

Caracas defender Gabriel Cichero surprised Deportivo Cuenca in Ecuador with a headed goal in the third minute, but the Venezuelan club's striker Rafael Castellin was sent off for elbowing an opponent after 20 minutes.

A penalty from Rodrigo Texeira in the 58th minute and Ismael Villalba's winner in the 69th gave the Ecuadorean club a home victory against a 10-man Caracas.

Three fixtures from the knockout round had to be postponed this week. Argentine club Boca Juniors was due to travel to Defensor Sporting of Uruguay, but the game was put back a week because the stadium in Montevideo was unavailable.

Mexican clubs San Luis and Guadalajara were due to host Nacional of Uruguay and Sao Paulo of Brazil respectively, but the swine flu outbreak forced those games also to be delayed a week.

The two-legged final of the Copa Libertadores is scheduled for July 1 and 8.