South American Futbol - Libertadores, Sudamericana, World Cup 2010

Santos wins the 18th Paulista title in Brazil

Neymar’s goal helped Santos win the Paulista championship.

Santos defeated Santo Andre 3-2 on Sunday, but despite having three players sent off, they won the Paulista state title for the 18th time. Santos won the championship despite having a worse overall record than Santo Andre in the opening round of the competition. The two-legged finals series concluded in a 5-5 draw on an aggregate basis. Santos won the first stage, finishing 10 points ahead of Santo Andre, who came in second.

Santos understood that a slim defeat would be sufficient to crown them as winners because they had won the first leg of the championship 3-2 the previous week. As soon as Nunes connected with a cross from Cicinho on the goal line and fired into an open net in the opening minute, they appeared to lose focus on their lead.

Six minutes later, though, Santos equalized when teenage phenom Neymar grabbed onto a beautiful aerial back-heel from Robinho and advanced past the goalie and a defender to put the ball in the back of the net.

Ale, a midfielder for Santo Andre, gave them the lead once more in the 14th minute with a straightforward header from a corner kick, but Neymar tied the score for Santos in the 31st minute with a fine goal after sliding onto yet another superb back-heel, this one from Paulo Henrique Ganso.

Branquinho scored just before halftime to give Santo Andre the lead once again following a well-executed team play, however the action didn’t stop there.

The championship would have been theirs if Santo Andre had scored a fourth goal during the second half. In the 90th minute, Branquinho came the closest to scoring when he struck the post from close range.

36,000 pro-Santos supporters in the Pacaembu stadium rejoiced in the victory, although having a bitter aftertaste. Santos will nonetheless be among the favorites to win the Brazilian title when it begins in two weeks.

In addition, Botafogo (Rio de Janeiro), Gremio (Rio Grande do Sul), and Atletico Mineiro are champions of their respective cities (Minas Gerais).



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