Copa Libertadores semi-finals


The semi-final line-ups for the 2011 Copa Libertadores are intriguing. The Brazilian side Santos inspired by teenage sensation Neymar are the only ones of the four to have played in a Libertadores semi-final since the turn of the millenium. Their opponents Cerro Porteño are the only ones never to have won the tournament before having been eliminated in each of their five previous Libertadores semis. Cerro's domestic form has been dismal, they are in the bottom half of the table having only won 1 of their previous 12 league games however their Libertadores form has been great having eliminated the tournament's most entertaining team Colo-Colo in the group stages, then Argentine champions Estudiantes and the Mexican side Jaguares in the knocknock-outges.

The other two semi-finalists are both making their first appearances at this stage since they last won it. Uruguayan side Peñarol last played a Libertadores semi-final back in 1987 when they beat the Argentine sides River Plate and Independiente in a semi-final group stage before famously inflicting the third consecutive Libertadores final defeat on América de Cali (the Jimmy White's of South American football) to win their fifth title. Vélez won their only previous Libertadores semi-final on their way to claim the 1994 championship.


Santos Brazil 1-0 Cerro Porteño Paraguay
Cerro Porteño Paraguay 3-3 Santos Brazil
Winner: Santos Brazil

Santos won their home leg 1-0 after a typical bit of class from Neymar to set up Edu Dracena with a virtually unmissable chance. Cerro were not too disappointed with a narrow defeat in Brazil and fancied their chances in the second leg however they suffered their sixth Copa Libertadores semi-final elimination after a 3-3 draw. Cerro gave themselves a mountain to climb after conceding two goals in the opening half hour. Cesár Benítez pulled one back but Neymar re-established the three goal aggregate lead for Santos with a goal in first half stoppage time. Cerro fought back in the second half with goals from Juan Manuel Lucero and Jonathan Fabbro but it was not enough to prevent Santos reaching their first Copa Libertadores final since 2003.

Peñarol Uruguay 1-0 Vélez Sársfield Argentina
Vélez Sársfield Argentina 2-1 Peñarol Uruguay
Winner: Peñarol Uruguay

Darío Rodríguez scored the only goal of the game to give Peñarol a 1-0 win against Vélez Sársfield in the first leg of their semi-final. Vélez won the second leg 2-1 but the Uruguayans went through courtesy of the away goals rule however things could have been different had Santiago Silva not spooned his penalty over the bar with 15 minutes to go.

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