SAO PAULO (AP) – Brazilian club Santos took a step toward reaching the Copa Libertadores final Wednesday with a 1-0 win over Paraguay's Cerro Porteno in their first-leg semifinal of the South American club championship.
Edu Dracena scored for Santos in the 44th, leaping high to score with a header from a perfect cross by young striker Neymar. Neymar launched a beautifully flighted ball from the left wing that Dracena knocked in off the underside of the crossbar.
The second leg of the semifinal is next week and Santos will be a strong favorite to reach the final against either Velez of Argentina or Penarol of Uruguay, who play Thursday. Velez is the favorite over the two legs.
Neymar dominated the match, setting up the winner and missing my inches in the 72nd minute off a long-range shot that sailed just over the crossbar.
In the 80th Neymar skipped around several defenders near the goal, but failed to get off a shot. He threatened again in the 85th with a strike that just slid wide of the post.
Cerro Porteno had trouble assembling much offense early in the match. It was more composed later, but still could not break through the Brazilians' defense.
Despite Santos' dominance, it scored only once and may have been looking for a larger cushion as it goes to Paraguay where Cerro Porteno is difficult to beat.