River Plate vs Gremio: Copa Libertadores 2018, as it happened
A second half header from Gremio defender Michel was enough to give the holders a first leg advantage at a packed El Monumental stadium.
2017 Copa Libertadores winners Gremio took a step in the right direction in retaining their title with an impressive 0-1 win in Buenos Aires against the highly fancied River Plate.
It was clear after a disappointing first twenty minutes of football that the match was set to become a tactical battle between two of the games finest in the coaching business with River's Marcelo Gallardo pitted against Gremio boss Renato Gaucho.
So it proved, Gremio looked the more composed side in the first half as River failed to find the final pass to carve open a well marshalled rearguard with a disappointing performance from the highly rated Pity Martinez.
The Argentine outfit started the better in the second period and just when they had Gremio penned back, a thumping Michel header from a corner just after the hour mark was enough to tilt the tie the way of the Porto Alegre based side.
There was no way back for the home side in an ultimately frustrating night in front of a packed El Monumental stadium that never stopped delivering a volley of noise despite the adverse scoreline as Gremio take a step closer to another Libertadores final.
River Plate-Gremio: preview
The first of the two Argentina versus Brazil Copa Libertadores 2018 semi-finals kicks off tonight in Buenos Aires as three time winners River Plate face current holders Gremio from Porto Alegre in what should be an intriguing match-up.
The home side are favourites to take the first leg with Gremio’s defender Walter Kannemann admitting that his side are struggling how to get past the Argentine side at their Buenos Aires fortress. "It's going to be a game in which we have to concentrate and can't afford to give anything away. We will focus on getting through the early stages and then try to win the match." The 27-year-old center-back added: "We're ready for everything. River are renowned for their intensity and pressing so it's going to be a difficult game. But anything can happen, even against a strong rival like River Plate.”
Gremio playmaker Luan and Everton are last minute doubts for the Brazilian side with River coach having good news in the return to full fitness of Pity Martinez and a full strength squad to call upon.