Good evening, ladies and gentlemen, and welcome to my weekly round-up. It was a relatively quiet week in Brazil, with the first legs of state championship finals in São Paulo and Rio Grande do Sul proving predictably inconclusive. The most meaningful action came in the Copa do Brasil, where Avaí and Ceará produced upsets, knocking out São Paulo and Flamengo respectively. In the Libertadores, Santos picked up a crucial advantage against Once Caldas...
Copa Libertadores Round-up
As the phrase (nearly) goes; Once Caldas, twice shy. The Colombian side, who dispatched Cruzeiro in the last round, were thoroughly outplayed by Santos, who picked up a useful 1-0 win in the away leg of their quarter-final. As ever, it was Neymar at the centre of the action; the forward reportedly overcame fatigue to turn in an inspirational performance for the Peixe. The 19-year-old set up the only goal of the match, clipping a perceptive pass to Alan Patrick, who coolly slotted into the corner. More of the same at the Vila Belmiro should be enough for Santos to progress.
Campeonato Paulista Round-up
Santos were also in domestic action this week; they faced Corinthians in the first leg of their Paulistão final. A closely-fought match finished goalless at the Pacaembu, leaving all to play for in the second leg. Both sides came close to breaking the deadlock; Neymar struck the post following a mesmerising run, and Liédson saw his left-footed drive brush the upright. The sides meet again on Sunday.
Copa do Brasil Round-up
Flamengo, who had suffered a 2-1 defeat in the first leg of their quarter-final with Ceará, travelled to Fortaleza hoping to turn the tide. Initially, it seemed that they would do just that; Thiago Neves' brace put them in the driving seat within the first half hour. Ceará, however, had other ideas, and two quickfire goals from Washington ensured that the Rubro-Negro went home disappointed. Vasco, meanwhile, who had home advantage against Atlético Paranaense, did just enough; Élton's header put them through on away goals.
Underdogs Avaí turned in a fabulous performance at the Ressacada, beating São Paulo 3-1 to reach the final four. Casemiro actually put the Tricolor ahead early on, but strikes from William, Bruno Silva, and Marquinhos Gabriel gave Silas' side an unexpected victory. São Paulo boss Paulo César Carpegiani paid heavily for the defeat; he was sacked today. Palmeiras, who had been trounced by Coritiba in the first leg of their semi-final, at least restored some pride in the return; the Verdão won 2-0 at the Pacaembu.
Best of the Rest
Grêmio gained the upper hand in the Campeonato Gaúcho final, beating bitter rivals Internacional 3-2 at the Beira-Rio. Young forward Júnior Viçosa was the star of the show, netting twice for the Imortal Tricolor. Paulo Roberto Falcão's side will have their work cut out the the Olímpico. In the Campeonato Mineiro, first blood went to Atlético-MG, who beat Cruzeiro 2-1. Former Roma winger Mancini scored the pick of the goals for the Galo, curling in a free-kick from an acute angle. Santa Cruz (about whom this superb blog is written) lead Sport in the Pernambuco final, whilst Goiás and Atlético-GO drew 1-1 in the first leg of the Campeonato Goiano playoff.
Selected results. Paulista; Corinthians 0-0 Santos. Libertadores; Once Caldas 0-1 Santos. Copa do Brasil; Palmeiras 2-0 Coritiba (2-6 on aggregate), Vasco 1-1 Atlético-PR (3-3 on aggregate, Vasco win on away goals), Avaí 3-1 São Paulo (3-2 on aggregate), Ceará 2-2 Flamengo (4-3 on aggregate).
(Photo credits; (1) Mauricio Dueñas, (2) LC Moreira.)