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San Lorenzo, Nacional ‘draw’ in final 1st leg Santa Cruz scores

ASUNCION, Aug 7, (RTRS): Substitute Julio Santa Cruz threw Nacional a lifeline when he equalised in the third minute of added time to give the Paraguayans a 1-1 draw with San Lorenzo in the first leg of the Libertadores Cup final on Wednesday. Striker Mauro Matos had put the Argentine favourites ahead midway through the second half at the Defensores del Chaco stadium in Paraguay’s capital. But Santa Cruz, younger brother of Paraguay international Roque, snatched a late equaliser to deny the visitors a deserved victory. “I think we were dominated by a San Lorenzo side that played very well, that played more calmly than us,” Nacional coach Gustavo Morinigo said.

“Our players were very nervous (but) we got a draw at the end that allows to go and fight for the Cup (in Buenos Aires),” he told reporters. San Lorenzo took the game to Nacional, dominating the midfield and bringing danger to the home side’s goal where keeper Ignacio Don made several saves and also saw a shot from left back Emmanuel Mas hit the post. The visitors took a deserved lead in the 65th minute with Matos’s right-footed shot from striker partner Hector Villalba’s pass.

It was one of six shots on target for the Saints compared to one for Nacional, but that was all the Paraguayans needed with Santa Cruz, who came on for the final 20 minutes for Ramon Coronel, putting away an effort after a pass from striker Fredy Bareiro. Creative midfielder Ignacio Piatti led the Argentine side’s attacks and set up their best chances as Nacional were largely limited to defending. “It’s a shame because we had the match won. We’d played a perfect match, but I’ve got no doubts we’ll win there (at home),” Piatti said. However, Piatti looks set to miss the second leg due to his transfer to MLS side Montreal Impact during a two-month interruption in the competition because of the World Cup.
 
“It’s difficult. I’ve done everything to get (permission) to play. Let’s hope it gets resolved but it looks complicated,” he said. Nacional missed suspended central midfielder Marcos Riveros and will look forward to having him back for the second leg next Wednesday at San Lorenzo’s Nuevo Gasometro in Buenos Aires. The two sides are both looking to lift South America’s top club trophy for the first time with the victors going through to the Club World Cup in Morocco in December.

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