South American Futbol - Libertadores, Sudamericana, World Cup 2010

Brazil: Santos wins the opening Paulista match

After defeating Santo Andre 3-2 in the first leg of the final at the Pacaembu stadium on Sunday, storied Brazilian team Santos is one win away from winning their 18th Sao Paulo state championship. Even if they lose by a slim margin against Santo Andre in the second leg next weekend, the Peixe can still win the state title.

Santo Andre unexpectedly grabbed the lead in the 34th minute when midfielder Bruno Cesar curled in a left-footed free-kick, much to the dismay of the majority of spectators. However, Santos rallied, and in the 58th minute, Andre nodded the ball in at the back post to tie the score.

Four minutes after their equalizer, Santos, who last won the state championship in 2007, took the lead when Wesley beat Santo Andre goalkeeper Felipe with a well-placed shot following a rapid breakaway.

To the joy of the raucous 35,000 spectators, Wesley soon added Santos’ third goal with a similar finish.

Santo Andre was down to 10 men in the 75th minute, but Rodriguinho scored to restore parity and keep their title hopes alive.

Santos is still significantly favored to win the championship next week, not just because of their advantage but also because they have emerged as the best club in Brazil thus far this season. Santos has scored an incredible 96 goals in 28 games, making them the favorite to win the championship.

Robinho, who is on loan from Manchester City to the team, as well as talented youths Neymar and Paulo Henrique Ganso, have had a significant effect on Santos’ success.

Gremio closes closer on the win

Before the second leg of the final next week, Gremio of Porto Alegre defeated Internacional 2-0 in the Beira-Rio stadium and is now in a position to win the Campeonato Gaucho. Rodrigo and Borges’ headers in the second half gave Gremio the victory.



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