Santos reach Copa Libertadores final

Brazil’s Santos reached the Copa Libertadores final with a 3-3
draw at Cerro Porteno on Wednesday.

Santos won the first semifinal match last week in Brazil 1-0 to
advance 4-3 on aggregate.

Eduardo and Neymar scored for Santos with the other coming from
an own-goal by Cerro Porteno’s Pedro Benitez.

Santos is chasing its third Copa Libertadores title in the
two-leg final on June 15 and 23, and will face either Uruguay’s
Penarol or Velez Sarsfield of Argentina.

Penarol or Velez Sarsfield play Thursday in Buenos Aires, with
Penarol holding a 1-0 in their semifinal after the first leg.

Santos took a 1-0 lead in the second minute with Eduardo’s
goal.

The early goal provided momentum and Santos made it 2-0 in the
28th on an own goal. Neymar and two Cerro Porteno defenders chased
a bouncing ball near the goal, which was accidentally headed home
by Pedro Benitez.

Cerro Porteno’s Cesar Benitez made it 2-1 in the 32nd minute,
scoring with a leaping header from a corner. The goal lifted the
Paraguay side, which early in the match seemed nervous but began to
pressure the Santos defense.

That ended when Santos’ Neymar made it 3-1 in first-half
stoppage time. One of the world’s most promising young players,
Neymar broke down the left side on a counterattack, took and pass
and slotted home a perfect shot from 15 meters (yards).

Cerro Porteno got a goal back in the 61st with a 15-meter (yard)
shot from Juan Manuel Lucero. Jonathan Fabbro made it even closer
in the 81st with 25-meter strike to leave the outcome temporarily
in doubt.

The game was stopped for several minutes after Fabbro’s goal
when Santos coach Muricy Ramalho was struck in the head by an
object thrown from the stands. He stayed on the field and did not
appear to be seriously injured.