The forward's first half strike was the difference between the two sides at the Vila Belmiro as the Timao look in control to qualify for the final
Emerson Sheik scored a vital away goal before being sent off to put Corinthians in pole position to qualify for the Copa Libertadores final next week. In a heated game in Sao Paulo, the Corinthians winger bent a superb first half strike over the head of Rafael to give the away side a 1-0 lead over Santos going into the second leg.
The visitors began the match with confidence and looked focused and determined as they began to pass the ball about comfortably at the Vila Belmiro.With less than 30 minutes on the clock, Emerson scored to put the visitors ahead and ignite the wonderful travelling support.
Paulinho broke from midfield, bringing both Henrique and Edu Dracena out of position. He slipped the ball forward towards Emerson, who had cut in from the left flank and collected the pass on the edge of the box. With time to set himself, he bent a beautiful effort into the top corner to leave Rafael sprawling.
Following the half time interval, Santos returned to the field looking refreshed and reinvigorated with drive and ideas. Cassio Ramos, who had a very good game, prevented Santos equalising on several occasions, and was called to duty soon after the break; first to get down well to prevent Durval and then tipping Borges’ header over the bar.
As Santos continued to desperately search for an all-important equaliser, Corinthians had a worthy penalty appeal turned down. In on goal and one on one with Cassio Ramos, Emerson was unable to double his goal tally as he looked to be brought down in the area. However, the referee waved away the flurry of appeals.
What followed was a scruffy period of play as Alessandro and Neymar were both cautioned before Corinthians’ goalscoring hero, Emerson, was shown a second yellow card for a poor tackle on Neymar which gave the referee no choice but to send the wide-man off.
With ten minutes remaining in the tie, Neymar was inches away from snatching a late equaliser. Alan Kardec played a teasing low ball across the six-yard box from the right wing which Leandro Castan managed to force out for a corner as the Santos trickster lurked at the far post. From the following corner, the ball was headed clear, but only to the feet of Juan on the right of the box who hit a thunderous drive only to see Cassio Ramos pull of a spectacular save.
Just five minutes remained in the first-leg when a floodlight failure suspended the play for 10 to 15 minutes. When the play resumed, the Peixe looked the more urgent of the two sides, however, were unable to break down Corinthians’ resolute backline.
At this stage of the competition results count, and Corinthians will be pleased to take a one goal advantage back to their own ground when these two sides face each other next Wednesday.