BUENOS AIRES, Argentina (AP) — Hernan Lopez scored a hat trick of headers and Leandro Gonzalez added two more goals as Estudiantes took a step toward the last 16 with a 5-1 demolition of Paraguayan club Guarani on Thursday in the Copa Libertadores.
The win gave Estudiantes nine points in Group 7, a point behind leader Cruzeiro of Brazil after four games. Colombia's Deportes Tolima has four and Guarani, now eliminated, has zero.
Elsewhere, 2004 Libertadores champion Once Caldas of Colombia also boosted its qualification hopes with a 5-0 home win over Uruguay's five-time former winner Penarol, while Peru's Leon de Huanuco drew 1-1 with visiting Gremio of Brazil. Colombia's Atletico Junior beat Oriente Petrolero of Bolivia 2-1 in a late match.
The top two in each of the eight groups advance to the final 16 of Latin America's top international club competition.
Lopez scored in the 1st, 19th and 59th minutes as reigning Argentine champion Estudiantes moved to the verge of qualification with its rout of Guarani.
Gonzalez heading home in the 59th and scored left-footed in the 82nd to seal the win for Estudiantes, which was reduced to 10 men after Roncaglia was shown a red card early in the second half.
Benitez scored in the 80th for Guarani, which became the first club eliminated.
In Group 8, Liga de Quito's decisive win over Penarol drew them level with the Uruguayan club on six points from four games.
Carlos Luna opened the scoring for Liga in the 23rd minute and Walter Calderon glanced a header into the net in first-half stoppage time to extend the lead.
Neicer Reasco's low cross was deflected in by Penarol defender Carlos Suarez in the 59th minute for the third goal, with Hernan Barcos scoring a penalty in the 64th and Calderon nodding in the fifth in the 79th.
Once Caldas' Fernando Hidalgo was sent off within two minutes of entering as a substitute, but the expulsion made no difference to the final score.
In the same group, Argentina's Godoy Cruz also has six points but has played a game less, while compatriot Independiente has three, also from three games.
In Group 2, Jhasmany Campos gave Oriente Petrolero the lead at Atletico Junior in the 49th minute, but Marcelo Aguirre was sent off for the Bolivian club 10 minutes later.
Carlos Bacca scored Junior's equalizer in the 65th and struck home a penalty in the 73rd to complete the comeback win and secure their fourth win in four outings.
The victory ensured the Colombian club of a spot in the final 16, joining Libertad of Paraguay among the early qualifiers.
In the same group, Carlos Alberto scored a 55th-minute equalizer to secure a draw for Gremio at Leon and keep the Brazilian club in second spot with seven points.
Carlos Elias had put Leon ahead in the 44th. The point moved the Peruvian club to four points from four matches. Oriente is bottom with zero points.