Uruguayan giants Penarol took a major step towards the Copa Libertadores group stage after they thrashed Caracas 4-0 in the first leg of their first-stage match.

Penarol did not start particularly well with the Venezuelans creating the best chances early on while also missing a penalty.

Jesus Gomez's shot was blocked by the body of Penarol goalkeeper Fabian Carini before Caracas missed a great chance to take the lead when they were awarded a spot-kick following Alejandro Gonzalez's foul on Victor Ferreira in the box.

Edgar Jimenez stepped up but Carini palmed the ball away for a corner.

It served to galvanise Penarol and from then on they dominated the game, going ahead in the 35th minute when Nico Freitas headed home a corner.

They doubled the lead three minutes later when Rodrigo Mora played in Marcelo Zalayeta who slotted past goalkeeper Renny Vega.

Joao Pedro pounced when Vega could not control the ball to make it 3-0 before the same player's shot was deflected into the path of Lolo Estoyanoff who completed the scoring.

Caracas ended the game with 10 men with Fidel Perez given a straight red card nine minutes from time.

The second leg is next Thursday in Caracas.