Friday, 20 August 2010

Palmeiras and Avaí Through to Last 16 of Copa Sul-Americana

South America's secondary football competition slipped under the radar slightly this week, with the final of the Copa Libertadores understandably hogging the headlines. There were, however, two all-Brazilian second-leg clashes, from which Avaí and Palmeiras progressed to the round of sixteen.

Avaí 0-1 Santos (3-2 on aggregate)
Despite losing on the night to Santos, Avaí's impressive first leg performance proved to be enough to see them through to the next round. The Florianópolis side have rivalled Santos for attacking flair in recent weeks, and lined up at the Ressacada with their in-form attacking quartet of Davi, Robinho (formerly of Santos...no, not that Robinho), Vandinho and Caio. The Peixe, in the wake of the departures of Robinho (that Robinho), André, and Wesley, fielded what is now their strongest XI, hoping to stay in contention for their third title of 2010.

Avaí started with the bit between their teeth, and could twice have taken the lead through Patric and Rudinei. The opening goal, however, would go to Santos, and in some style. Marquinhos, regaining his starting spot (in my opinion, he's a far more useful player than Wesley, the midfielder who was keeping him out of the side) somehow produced an overhead-backheel-throughball (yes, you read that right), sending Zé Éduardo clear to slot past the goalkeeper. It looked as if a Santos comeback was on the cards, but the seasiders were frustrated for the rest of the tie, seeing chance after chance pass them by, and allowing Avaí to hold on for a narrow aggregate win.

Palmeiras fans salute goalkeeper Marcos on his 500th game for the club.

Palmeiras 3-0 Vitória (3-2 on aggregate)
Luiz Felipe Scolari, after a frustrating start as Palmeiras coach, guided his side to a second straight win, one which sees the Verdão through to the last sixteen of the competition. Despite resting a number of his star players (Kléber, Ewerton, Lincoln), the home side turning in a strong performance to knock out visiting Vitória.

In front of a packed Pacaembu (due largely to it being the 500th game of goalkeeping legend Marcos), Palmeiras took the lead on the stroke of half time. Marcos Assunção found Tadeu with a terrific pass, and the forward's finish bounced into the net despite a touch from Viáfara in the visitors' goal. Tadeu would go on to grab his second just after the interval, drilling home after Márcio Araújo's skewed shot. The scoring was completed in the final seconds when deadball specialist Marcos Assunção bent home a glorious free-kick from thirty yards.

(Photo credit; Tom Dib.)

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