Ecuador Primera A Wrap: Emelec claim first stage
Emelec have clinched the first stage of the Primera A with Cristian Nasuti scoring the decisive goal in a 1-0 win over Universidad Catolica.Nasuti notched his second goal in as many games to lead his team to victory over Catolica, ensuring Emelec will finish top of the standings in the first half of the Ecuadorian league season.
With a round to play in the Primera A's first stage, Emelec have 44 points with an unassailable six-point lead over second-placed LDU Quito, who succumbed to a 2-0 loss to Deportivo Cuenca on Wednesday.
The first stage triumph means Emelec have qualified for the two-legged championship final, which will be held if another team wins the second stage of the season.
If Emelec, who have qualified for next year's Copa Libertadores and Copa Sudamericana, win the second stage, they will be automatically crowned champions.
In Guayaquil, Emelec's home fans had to wait 70 minutes to see their team breakthrough Catolica's defence with the league leaders eventually scoring when Nasuti's diving header from John Narvaez's right-wing cross beat the visiting goalkeeper.
It was the 30-year-old Argentine defender's second goal in four days, taking his season tally to two, after he unleashed a bicycle kick to knock off Cuenca on Sunday.
Cuenca ensured Emelec could celebrate winning the first stage on Wednesday by defeating LDU thanks to goals from Victor Estupinan and Damian Manso.
Estupinan opened the scoring four minutes from half-time, stepping around an opponent before unleashing a low drive from just outside the penalty area, while Manso doubled Cuenca's lead in the 66th minute when his free-kick deflected off the wall and into the bottom corner of LDU's net.
In other Primera A results, LDU Loja moved off the bottom of the Ecuadorian league standings with a 2-0 victory over third-placed Independiente, while reigning champions Barcelona overcame Manta 2-1 and Deportivo Quevedo won 4-3 against Deportivo Quito.