Santos beat Boca to secure all-Brazil Copa Libertadores final

Rodrigo ALMONACID
·2 min read
Santos's Yeferson Soteldo (left) celebrates with teammate Diego Pituca after scoring against Argentina's Boca Juniors during their Copa Libertadores semifinal win

Santos defeated Argentina's Boca Juniors 3-0 to set up an all-Brazilian Copa Libertadores final after a one-sided semi-final victory in Sao Paulo on Wednesday.

Goals from Diego Pituca, Yeferson Soteldo and Lucas Braga fired the Sao Paulo giants into a January 30 final against city rivals Palmeiras.

With the tie finely balanced after a goalless first leg in Buenos Aires last week, the two sides battled it out behind closed doors at the Vila Belmiro stadium because of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Santos, the team of legendary forward Pele, will now face Palmeiras at Rio de Janeiro's Maracana stadium in a final pushed back from November 2020 due to the global health crisis.

After hitting the woodwork within seconds of the kick-off on Wednesday, Santos took the lead on 17 minutes when Pituca punished hesitation in the Boca defence to to turn a left-footed shot into the bottom corner from close range.

Venezuelan international Soteldo then doubled the lead for Santos in the 49th minute with a magnificent individual strike, picking the ball up on the left flank about 30 yards from goal before cutting in and unleashing an unstoppable right foot shot into the top corner.

Two minutes later and Santos made the game safe with a well-worked goal that saw Marinho dart down the right flank before cutting a low cross into the path of Braga, who swept in the finish for 3-0.

Despite numerous attempts, six-time cup winners Boca could just not find the goal, failing to break through a spirited defense and outplayed by their rivals.

Palmeiras completed a 3-2 aggregate victory over Argentina's River Plate on Tuesday in their Sao Paulo second leg.

Santos has lifted the Copa Libertadores three times, in 1962, 1963 and 2011, and will be looking to become the first Brazilian team to win the continental crown four times.

Palmeiras by contrast has just one Libertadores title, in 1999, since the tournament started in 1960.

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