Copa Libertadores, a top tier continental competition in South America equal to UEFA Champions League, finally see two finalists for this year’s edition after the delays and in the midst of world pandemic. Two Brasilian sides, Santos and Palmeiras, are set to square off in the last match of the tournament. It is the third time two Brasilian teams encounter at the final after 2005 and 2006 edition. What’s more, they both managed to prevent two most notable Argentinean teams, Boca Juniors and River Plate, from repeating the 2018 final.
The second leg semifinal this week was a display of quality on one side and of fortune on the other side before Cuca’s men and Luiz Adriano and Co face off in Maracana on 30th January to decide which side deserves the silverware.
Santos managed to hold Boca in a goalless draw at the first leg in La Bambonera last week. This midweek, Pele’s former club went rampant and crushed the lacklustre Carlos Tevez and Co 3-0. Diego Pituca opened the scoring, followed by the Venezuelan Yeferson Soteldo’s strike which found the back of the net and Lucas Braga tucked away to seal their triumph.
Their counterpart, Palmeiras, which already had three-goal away advantage from the first leg, was rather fortune not to concede more than two goals at the second leg this midweek. They were the less dominant side and had to rely on Weverton’s impressive form and lady luck, who evetually smiled at them as one of River’s goal was disallowed and another hit the post while there was a rumble in the box. Roberto Rojas’s and Rafael Borre’s goal were in the end not enough to force an extra time. Palmeiras was through the final after a thriller.
For both of them, this year’s final is their fifth in history. Santos already won three times, twice led by Pele in 1962 and 1963 plus another one led by Neymar in 2011, whereas Palmeiras has just clinched one title in 1999 under the spell of Luiz Felipe Scolari. The winner of Copa Libertadores will represent Conmebol in FIFA Cup World Cup 2020 next month in Qatar.