Athletico Paranaense secure first-leg victory over Palmeiras in Copa Libertadores semi-final

·1-min read

Athletico Paranaense are one step closer to the Copa Libertadores final after holding serve for a 1-0 home win in the first leg of their semi-final against Palmeiras.

Athletico have not made it to the final since 2005, when they lost to Sao Paulo, while Palmeiras are the reigning back-to-back champions from 2020 and 2021.

In a game where Palmeiras controlled 64 per cent of the possession and produced four shots on target compared to just one for the hosts, it was Athletico's one shot on target that made the difference.

It came in the 23rd minute, when a botched clearance went straight up in the air, allowing 17-year-old Vitor Roque to bring it down and control it deep in the penalty area, before squaring the ball along the six-yard box to Alex Santana for the easy finish.

With the lead, Athletico opted to attempt to sit on their advantage and park the bus, only controlling 28 per cent of the possession in the second half, and they would have to do it with 10 men after a hand-ball Hugo Moura resulted in his second yellow card in the 70th minute.

Incensed, his manager and former Chelsea and Brazil boss Luiz Felipe Scolari was also shown a red card from the resulting fallout.

But the home side was gutsy enough to hold on, making five substitutes in quick succession in the dying minutes to try and kill the clock. It resulted in nearly 10 minutes of stoppage time, which they successfully navigated.

Palmeiras will host the second leg on Tuesday, September 6.