Martinez hat-trick fires Racing to win over Cruzeiro

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Buenos Aires, Feb 28 (IANS) Argentina under-20 striker Lautaro Martinez scored a hat-trick as Racing Club beat Brazil’s Cruzeiro 4-2 on the opening night of the Copa Libertadores group stage.

Martinez took just 14 minutes to give the Argentine side the lead on Tuesday as he darted past Cruzeiro’s defence to meet a Neri Cardozo set piece with a deft volley, reports Xinhua news agency.

Uruguayan midfielder Giorgian De Arrascaeta equalized with a header before Martinez scored again with a low shot after a scramble.

The 20-year-old netted his third goal just after the hour mark with an expertly placed header, but Cruzeiro reduced the deficit again via a long-range Robinho Signorini free kick.

The hosts put the result beyond doubt when goalkeeper Rafael somehow failed to keep out an Augusto Solari shot from a tight angle.

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In Santiago, a second-half strike from Vladimir Hernandez gave Colombia’s Atletico Nacional a 1-0 victory over Chilean giants Colo-Colo.

Hernandez drilled a shot past Augustin Orion after a slick Jorman Campuzano through ball at Colo-Colo’s Estadio Monumental.

Nacional are aiming to win South America’s top club trophy for a third time while Colo-Colo are vying for a second title.

In other matches on Tuesday, Paraguay’s Cerro Porteno won 2-0 at Venezuela’s Monagas SC and Gremio drew 1-1 at Uruguay’s Defensor Sporting Club.

–IANS

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