Brazil's Palmeiras leads River Plate of Argentina in Libertadores semi-finals

Avellaneda (Argentina) (AFP) –


Brazil's Palmeiras beat 10-man River Plate of Argentina 3-0 Tuesday in the first leg of their semi-final clash in the 2020 Copa Libertadores.

The teams battled it out an empty stadium in Avellaneda, Buenos Aires, the match preceded by a minute's silence observed for victims of the coronavirus pandemic.

The team that emerges victorious after the second leg in Sao Paulo next week will play either Boca Juniors of Argentina or Santos of Brazil in the January 30 final of South America's top club football tournament.

The final at Maracana stadium has been pushed back from November 2020 due to the global health crisis.

The first goal of the match came in the 26th minute on a long-range blast from Palmeiras forward Rony.

Minutes later Palmeiras had a shot disallowed for offside and River missed a chance with a wild free kick in the dying minutes of the first half.

Luiz Adriano scored for Palmeiras two minutes into the second half, squeezing a goal between goalkeeper Franco Armani's legs.

River went a man down in the 60th minute when a frustrated Jorge Carrascal received a red card for a kick at Gabriel Menino.

The ensuing free kick was headed in by Matias Vina to make it 3-0 in the 62nd and leave the Argentinian side a mountain to climb in next week's decisive match.

River Plate has lifted the Copa Libertadores four times since the tournament started in 1960 -- most recently in 2018 -- and Palmeiras once, in 1999.

Argentinian teams have won the most finals -- 25 in total.