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The knockout stage of the 2010 edition of the Copa Libertadores is finally here as the best club teams in South America compete for the title of “Campéon De América.”

Tuesday’s matches featured both Mexican teams, the defending Libertadores champions, and red cards. Chivas Guadalajara took a commanding lead against Argentine side Vélez Sarsfield. With the Mexican playoffs looming, Chivas built great momentum by defeating Vélez 3-0 at home at Estadio Jalisco in the 1st leg. 2 goals by former Deportivo La Coruña forward Omar Bravo lifted Chivas and a 89th minute red card by Vélez keeper Germán Montoya led to the 3rd Chivas goal, a PK converted by Hector Reynoso.

Defending champions, Estudiantes La Plata got an important road goal by Leandro González in the 24th minute to finalize a 1-0 first leg advantage against San Luis. Estudiantes will be without key defender for the 2nd leg in La Plata as Clemente Rodriguez got a red card in the 68th minute.

Wednesday night, the Brazilian teams took center stage. The marquee matchup featured the 2009 Brasileirão champs, Flamengo and ’09 Copa Do Brasil champs, Corinthians at the Maracaná. A penalty by Adriano gave the Rio side a slight 1-0 edge over Ronaldo and Corinthians going into the 2nd leg.

Internacional got a valuable away goal but still face a massive hole against Argentina’s Banfield. 3 second half goals including 2 goals after Inter’s goal scorer Kléber was red carded in the 56th minute. Banfield takes a 3-1 first leg advantage to Porto Alegre for the 2nd leg. São Paulo took part in a scoreless draw versus Peruvian side, Universitario.

Thursday’s night, La U de Chile took a big step toward the quarters with their 1-0 road win against Alianza Lima in Peru. Diego Rivarola 85th minute goal was the Argentine’s 1st of the tournament. Colombian side Once Caldas couldn’t take advantage if their home ground as they drew 0-0 against Paraguayan side Libertad.

The star of the Round of 16 first leg matches was Thiago Ribeiro of Cruzeiro. His hat trick in the 1st half led the Brazilians to a 3-1 win against Nacional of Uruguay. The 3 goals moved Thiago Ribeiro into 2nd place on the goalscorers list for this year’s tournament. Mario Rigueiro’s 50th minute goal gives the Uruguayans a chance for the 2nd leg at the Parque Central in Montevideo.

Here are the results from the 1st leg of Round of 16 matches of the 2010 Copa Santander Libertadores, the home teams are listed first.

TUESDAY, APRIL 27th

Chivas Guadalajara (MEX) 3 – 0 Vélez Sarsfield (ARG)
CHV: Omar Bravo (25′ & 78′), Héctor Reynoso (pen 90′)

San Luis (MEX) 0 – 1 Estudiantes La Plata (ARG)
ELP: Leandro González (24′)

WEDNESDAY, APRIL 28th

Flamengo (BRA) 1 – 0 Corinthians (BRA)
FLA: Adriano (pen 65′)

Universitario de Deportes (PER) 0 – 0 São Paulo (BRA)

Banfield (ARG) 3 – 1 Internacional (BRA)
BAN: James Rodriguez (46′), Roberto Battión (58′), Sebastián Fernández (80′)
INT: Kléber (50′)

THURSDAY, APRIL 29th

Alianza Lima (PER) 0- 1 Universidad de Chile (CHI)
UCH: Diego Rivarola (85′)

Once Caldas (COL) 0 – 0 Libertad (PAR)

Cruzeiro (BRA) 3 – 1 Nacional de Montevideo (URU)
CRZ: Thiago Ribeiro (7′, 21′, 41′)
NAC: Mario Regueiro (50′)