BUENOS AIRES - Twice South American
champions Santos put a foot into their fourth Libertadores Cup
final with a 1-0 home win over Cerro Porteno of Paraguay in the
first leg of their semi-final on Wednesday.
Cerro, looking to reach their first final when the sides
meet again in next week's second leg in Asuncion, have lost only
once at home in the competition - to Santos in the group phase.
The Brazilian side, champions in 1962 and 1963 and finalists
in 2003, went ahead one minute before half-time when Brazil
teenager Neymar jinked his way to the goalline on the left
before crossing to the far post where centre-back Edu Dracena's
header went in off the bottom of the bar.
Man-of-the-match Neymar looked to have laid on a second goal
for the Brazilians three minutes into added-time with another
run but substitute Alan Patrick's weak shot was blocked by
goalkeeper Diego Barreto.
"Cerro played well. It was a good win for us but in that
last attack it could have been better," Edu told Fox Sports.
The Paraguayan side might have equalised from the restart
after Edu's goal but goalkeeper Rafael managed to get a foot to
striker Fredy Bareiro's diving header.
Earlier, Barreto saved well from Danilo, who had been
brilliantly put through by Neymar, while Cerro central defender
Pedro Benitez headed just wide with the Santos net at his mercy.
Neymar proved to be Santos' only real chance of breaking
down the Cerro defence and Barreto had to leap to tip the
teenager's shot from outside the box over his bar.
Substitute Maikon Leite, on for the final 15 minutes, gave
Santos some extra bite and shot just over the bar in the final
"We didn't deserve to lose, it was an even match... Neymar is
a player who makes a difference, the move for the goal was his,
you need to know how to close him down," said Cerro coach
Five times champions Penarol of Uruguay are at home to
Argentine favourites Velez Sarsfield, winners in 1994, in the
first leg of their semi-final at the Centenario in Montevideo on
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