Santos top Boca Juniors 3-0 to set up all-Brazilian Final
A Libertadores Final at the temple of Brazilian football will feature a pair of São Paulo rivals after Santos topped Boca Juniors 3-0 to secure a spot alongside Palmeiras at the Maracanã on January 30th in the 2020 CONMEBOL Libertadores Final.
Santos handed Boca Juniors their worst ever CONMEBOL Libertadores loss en route to a fifth Libertadores Final, their first Finals appearance since 2011.
In an omen of things to come, Marinho hit the post within the first 30 seconds for the hosts. Though he failed to turn the rebound home, it was only a matter of time before Santos put the 0-0 first leg result behind them and hit their stride.
With a quarter of an hour played Santos struck. Yeferson Soteldo’s initial shot deflected off a Boca defender, and amidst the chaos of a cacophony of handball appeals Diego Pituca pounced, firing a quick shot past a flat-footed Esteban Andrada.
Even a goal down, Boca remained well in the tie, just a goal away from going through on away goals. But the side that had struggled for goals all competition, their 13 goals were least among the four semifinalists, struggled again on the night. A Sebastian Villa snapshot ended up as Boca’s best first half chance.
Still just a goal down coming out of the dressing room for the second half, Boca manager Miguel Ángel Russo made a pair of changes, bringing on fullback Julio Buffarini and midfielder Nicolas Capaldo in hopes of slowing the hosts down.
It was Santos however, who hit the ground running in the second forty-five minutes. Soteldo, who deservedly took home Best of the Match honors at the end of the night, surged into space and launched a rocket into the back of the net to double the lead.
Just two minutes later, with Boca still reeling as they watched their Libertadores dream slip away, Marinho, a revelation himself, brilliantly pulled the ball back with the outside of his foot for Lucas Braga to chip home.
At 3-0, even with 40 minutes to play, the writing was on the wall. Boca’s Frank Fabra was sent off with 56 minutes played, and a few minutes later Boca’s best chance of the night ended with a string of brilliant saves from the Santos goalkeeper João Paulo.
Santos’ win sets up the first all-Brazilian Libertadores Final since 2006 when Internacional topped São Paulo. Boca’s loss means that for the first time since 2016 the Libertadores Final will be played without an Argentine representative.