Copa Libertadores: Palmeiras and Santos have edge over Argentine rivals in first leg ties

January 7 – Palmeiras and Santos are in control of their own destinies in the Copa Libertadores semi-finals after the Sao Paulo clubs successfully navigated tricky away legs in Argentina.

On Tuesday, Palmeiras all but guaranteed their spot in the final with a resounding 3-0 win against River Plate. Marcelo Gallardo’s River Plate have been South America’s most consistent club over the past decade, having won the competition twice, but they conceded goals by Rony, Luiz Adriano, and Matias Vina to slump to a dramatic defeat. 

The Argentineans had to play with 10 men as well after Jorge Andres Carrascal was shown a red card in the second half. 

Palmeiras will be firm favorites going into the second leg next week. It was a remarkable win for the team of Portuguese coach Abel Ferreira, who included three players – Gabriel Menino, Patrick de Paula and Danilo – who weren’t even born when Palmeiras last won the competition in 1999. 

In the other semi-final, Santos’ youngsters failed to break the deadlock against a well-organised Boca Juniors at the Bombonera Stadium. Eighteen-year-old striker Kaio Jorge struggled to make an impact as both sides failed to create clear-cut chances in a match dominated by caution. The goalless draw was a fair result, but does give Pele’s former club the confidence that they can eliminate the Buenos Aires giants at home.

Internacional and Sao Paulo last played in an-all Brazilian Copa Libertadores final in 2006 when the club from Porto Alegre prevailed 4-3 over two legs. 

This season’s final will be staged at Rio de Janeiro’s Maracana Stadium on January 30. The match had to be rescheduled because of the coronavirus pandemic and will be played behind closed doors. The winners will head straight to Qatar for the first of this year’s tow Club World Cups.

Contact the writer of this story, Samindra Kunti, at moc.l1611604111labto1611604111ofdlr1611604111owedi1611604111sni@o1611604111fni1611604111