Penarol to face Defensor for title

June 9, 2008

RIO DE JANEIRO, June 9 (Reuters) - Penarol kept alive their chances of winning the Uruguayan title after coming from 3-1 down to beat River Plate 5-3 in a playoff after their opponents again collapsed in a big game.

America stayed on course for the Colombian championship final with a 3-0 win over Santa Fe, and Libertad moved closer to the title in Paraguay when a late goal flurry gave them a 4-3 win over Sportivo Luqueno.

River Plate's young team, under flamboyant former Uruguay coach Juan Ramon Carrasco, blew their chance to win the second stage of the championship after another spectacular collapse.

Penarol's Gerardo Alcoba scored at both ends in the opening hour before Pablo Tiscornia and teenager Jonathan Urretaviscaya put River 3-1 ahead after only 39 minutes.

But River, who in an earlier game against Nacional had squandered a 3-0 win and gone on to lose 6-3, once again fell apart.

Fernando Correa pulled one back two minutes before halftime and Jose Maria Franco equalised in the 56th minute with a clinical finish from Antonio Pacheco's pass.

Pacheco and Carlos Bueno then scored for Penarol in the final 10 minutes.

Under the championship's complex rules, Penarol took the second stage of the championship with the win and will now have to beat Defensor Sporting twice to clinch the title overall.

Defensor, who won the first stage, meet Penarol in the semi-final over two legs. Defensor topped the aggregate standings of both stages and victory in the semi-final would give them the title.

A win for Penarol would mean Defensor live to fight another day in the final when the two teams would meet again.