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Weekend football round-up: Copa Libertadores edition

It wasn't a pretty first outing for most of the Superliga clubs, with only one out of five teams earning three points.

Friday 2 March, 2018
River Plate striker Rodrigo Mora, left, fights for the ball with Flamengo defender Renê during their Copa Liberadores match in Rio de Janeiro on Wednesday.
River Plate striker Rodrigo Mora, left, fights for the ball with Flamengo defender Renê during their Copa Liberadores match in Rio de Janeiro on Wednesday. Foto:AP Photo/Leo Correa

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This Tuesday through Thursday saw the first round of games of the 2018 Copa Libertadores, the most prestigious club competition on the continent. After Banfield lost on aggregate to Nacional (Uruguay) in the last round of qualifying, Argentina was left with five teams heading into the first stage of 32 teams in eight groups of four: Boca Juniors, River Plate, Racing Club, Independiente and Estudiantes. Here's where they stand now.

Racing, currently fifth in the Superliga, beat Cruzeiro (Brazil) 4-2 at home on Tuesday in the highest-scoring match of the matchday. The game also saw a late red card for Racing defender Renzo Saravia. Racing now top Group E, which also includes Universidad de Chile (Chile) and Vasco de Gama (Brazil). They next face Universidad de Chile on April 3.

Estudiantes, 10th in the Superliga, settled for a 0-0 draw with Nacional, who currently lead the Uruguayan league, on Wednesday in Montevideo. Group F also includes Santos (Brazil) and Real Garcilaso (Perú), who Estudiantes face next on March 14.

River Plate, wallowing in 21st place in the league, drew 2-2 with Flamengo (Brazil) in Rio on Thursday. The two sides share Group D with Emelec (Ecuador) and Independiente Santa Fe (Colombia), who face off with River on April 5.

Independiente, currently fourth, lost 1-0 to Deportivo Lara (Venezuela) yesterday in Cabudare. Group G also includes Corinthians (Brazil) and Millonarios (Colombia). They travel to Bogotá to face Millonarios on March 14.

League leaders Boca Juniors couldn't find a way past Alianza Lima (Perú) last night, with the match in Lima ending in a scoreless draw. The Xeneize share Group H with Palmeiras (Brazil) and Atlético Junior FC (Colombia), who they will host at the Bombonera on April 4.

While pundits weren't overly enamoured with Boca's performance in the aftermath, they remain Argentina's best hope of making a deep run or potentially winning the tournament. In fine form in 2018, Racing aren't far behind, while few were surprised at River's failure to earn three points, considering their recent precipitous drop in the table.

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