Friday 06 May 2016, 11:32

Early exit for River as Libertadores last eight confirmed

Independiente del Valle quashed River Plate's hopes of retaining their title with a 2-1 aggregate victory that took the Ecuadorian outfit through to the 2016 Copa Libertadores quarter-finals. While the defending champions are out, five other former winners remain in the hunt for the trophy after progressing past the last 16, and with it a spot at the FIFA Club World Cup Japan 2016. rounds up the best of the action.

The talking points Holders bow out

Independiente del Valle's dreams remain alive and kicking. The Ecuadorians continue to make history in this Libertadores campaign, with defending champions River Plate their latest victims. The holders laboured in the first leg away from home, where they suffered a 2-0 reverse courtesy of efforts from Jose Angulo and Junior Sornoza. In the return match at El Monumental, meanwhile, the visitors mounted a stout rearguard action that ultimately paid dividends. El Millonario threw everything at their opponents, but were unable to break them down until Lucas Alario's strike in the final ten minutes. This proved too little too late and the Argentinians' hopes of retaining their title came to an early end.

Mixed fates for other former champions

There were 15 to begin with, a number that had fallen to nine by the time the Round of 16 got underway, and now only five remain. Boca Juniors cruised past Cerro Porteno 5-2 on aggregate. Atletico Mineiro defeated Racing Club, also former winners, having held out for a goalless draw in Argentina and then triumphed 2-1 back on home turf. Sao Paulo also made the most of home comforts, thrashing Toluca 4-0 in Brazil, which proved enough to go through despite losing the second leg 3-1. Uruguay's Nacional booked their ticket on away goals thanks to a 2-2 draw on their visit to Corinthians, another of the beaten former champions, with the first leg having finished 0-0. Lastly, Colombia's Atletico Nacional advanced to the next round with a convincing 4-2 aggregate win over Argentina's Huracan.

Boca building a head of steam

Boca Juniors' campaign did not enjoy the best of starts, with three straight draws sowing doubts about the six-time champions, the second most decorated club in Libertadores history. However, they gradually hit their stride and their last-16 showing against Cerro Porteno proved that they are strong contenders. The Xeneize produced a performance full of character in Paraguay and went away with their noses in front through Carlos Tevez and Nicolas Lodeiro strikes, despite Cecilio Dominguez pulling a late goal back from the spot. The Buenos Aires outfit impressed again back at the Bombonera. Tevez once more broke the deadlock, with a penalty of his own, before Rodrigo Rojas levelled the game, albeit not the tie. Cristian Pavon restored the hosts' lead on the night in the 73rd minute and then Pablo Perez added extra gloss to the result with a minute to go.

The stat 654 – The number of minutes that it took for Atletico Nacional to concede their first goal in this year's competition. The Colombian side's rearguard was finally breached in the 25th minute of their Round of 16 second-leg encounter, with Huracan's Cristian Espinoza the man responsible. It was a fine finish from the 21-year-old Argentinian forward, who received the ball in the area, took one touch and then rifled home with his left foot.

What they said"There's not a lot to analyse considering everything the team showed. Nothing I can say will add much. The team were totally committed. They probed, they displayed patience; they were smart rather than desperately piling forward. The scoreline didn't reflect our efforts, but I can't fault them. We're out and I'm going away sad and hurting, but the way the team played really struck a chord with me." River Plate coach Marcelo Gallardo, in the wake of his side's elimination