Rio de Janeiro -
Corinthians earned a 1-1 draw to eliminate defending champion Santos from the Copa Libertadores and advance to the final of South America’s most prized club tournament.
Having lost last week’s first leg 0-1, Santos levelled the tie on 35 minutes at Corinthians’ Pacaembu Stadium on Wednesday, when Neymar tapped into an unguarded net after Borges’ sliding shot rebounded off the far post.
Danilo restored Corinthians’ aggregate lead two minutes after the restart, when he ran onto Alex’s lobbed free-kick before lifting his left foot shot over Rafael, reported Xinhua.
In a tense final 10 minutes, Santos had several opportunities to score, but Corinthians survived to advance to the final for the first time in the club’s history.
“After conceding the first goal we had to show character to get one back and we did,” Corinthians midfielder Paulinho said.
As expected Santos entered the match with three strikers – Neymar, Borges and Alan Kardec – with veteran playmaker Elano being relegated to the bench.
Santos dominated possession early, and made all of the attacking moves, as Corinthians sat back seemingly intent on preserving their 1-0 advantage.
Neymar’s goal changed the home side’s approach and they emerged from the half time interval with renewed verve.
Santos coach Muricy Ramalho also opted for a change of tack by bringing on Elano, but the former Manchester City midfielder failed to make an impact.
The home side’s confidence, buoyed by Danilo’s goal, did not wane thereafter as Santos struggled for the cohesion and free-flowing geniality that was the hallmark of their 2011 Libertadores triumph.