Brazilian interest in the 2010 Copa Sul-americana has boiled down to two teams; Luiz Felipe Scolari's Palmeiras, and Série A strugglers Goiás. The two met at the Serra Dourada on Wednesday in the first leg of their semi-final, with both sides gunning for a final berth against LDU or Independiente.
Palmeiras were again without Chilean playmaker Jorge Valdivia, who has struggled to overcome a series of niggling injuries since his arrival. The trio of Tinga, Luan, and former Galatasaray man Lincoln were charged with providing support to the team's attacking focal point, Kléber. Goiás have been carried in recent weeks by Rafael Moura, and the big forward once again provided the main threat to the opposition defence. In a tight game of few clear chances, it was (as so often this term) Marcos Assunção who made the difference for the Verdão. The midfielder received the ball midway into the Goiás half, and advanced swiftly before rifling a glorious drive into the top corner of Harlei's goal. Assunção's 2010 highlight reel will make compulsive viewing.
Despite their best efforts, Goiás could not find a foothold in the match, and were restricted to only a handful of opportunities. Their best chance fell to Otacílio Neto, who saw his effort well saved by Palmeiras 'keeper Deola. The Esmeraldino now have it all to do in next week's return leg.
Result; Goiás 0-1 Palmeiras.
(Photo credit; Evaristo Sa/AFP.)