Latin America

Ponte Preta reach Copa Sudamericana

Sao Paulo's Antonio Carlos (R) heads the ball with Ponte Preta's Diego Sacoman (L).
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Ponte Preta are celebrating reaching the final of the Copa Sudamericana for the first time in their history after a 1-1 draw against giants Sao Paulo was enough to secure a 4-2 aggregate win.

Having won the first leg 3-1, Ponte Preta took a conservative approach to the second as they lowered the tempo in order to frustrate the tournament's defending champions, and they added to their advantage through Leonardo before half-time, with Luis Fabiano's equaliser too late to help Sao Paulo.


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It was the hosts who had the first chance, coming close to extending their lead when Rogerio Ceni was forced to make a good save to keep out Artur's header.

Sao Paulo were struggling to create chances, but Douglas went close with a glancing header while Maicon tried his luck from long range.

Ponte Preta then strengthened their grip on a final berth as they took the lead three minutes before half-time, with Leonardo following up his own rebound to beat Ceni at the second attempt.

Sao Paulo rarely looked like getting back into the tie, and they did not enjoy any sustained pressure until the final stages.

Luis Fabiano got them on the scoresheet with a header seven minutes from time but Ponte Preta had done enough.

"It was a hard, tough match," said Ponte Preta defender Uendel. "We tried to play it as cool as possible to protect the advantage we had from the first leg and I believe we did it right."

Sao Paulo defender Rodrigo Caio said his side gave it all they had.

"We played a good first half and they only had a few counter-attacks," he said. "I did my best to block Leonardo's shot, but he was able to get the rebound."

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