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 Posted by ESPN Staff
May 24, 2007

Libertadores: Santos scrape through to semi-finals

RIO DE JANEIRO, May 23 (Reuters) - Santos scraped into the Libertadores Cup semi-finals on Wednesday, coming from behind at home against a weakened America to win the second leg of their quarter-final 2-1.

Fellow Brazilians Gremio also went through, beating Uruguay's Defensor Sporting on penalties after winning 2-0.

Santos, with former favourite Pele among the crowd at the Vila Belmiro stadium, appeared to have an straightforward job on their hands after holding the Mexicans to a 0-0 away draw last week.

America also rested most of their regular players due to fixture congestion.

The Eagles are in the Mexican championship final and have only 48 hours to make the 7,400 kilometre trip home to face Pachuca in the first leg on Friday.

But Santos made a slow start in torrential rain and Argentine midfielder Daniel Bilos gave the visitors a shock lead after 33 minutes with a shot from the edge of the area following a one-two with Nelson Cuevas.

Vanderlei Luxemburgo's team came to life after halftime and turned the game around with two goals in six minutes.

Jonas burst into the penalty area to equalise in the 65th minute before midfielder Rodrigo Souto headed the winner from Kleber's cross.

Santos will meet compatriots Gremio after they wiped out a 2-0 deficit against Defensor to draw 2-2 on aggregate and then won 4-2 on penalties.

Gremio did the hard work in the first half when goals from Tcheco and Teco put them in control in front of a fanatical 42,000 crowd on a cold night in the southern city of Porto Alegre.

Tcheco opened the scoring in the 23rd minute with a free kick which bounced awkwardly in front of goalkeeper Martin Silva.

In the 45th minute, Sandro Goiano poked the ball through the middle of an advancing line of defenders and Teco beat the offside trap to slip the ball past Silva.

Gremio were unable to find a third goal after the break and had a lucky escape when Defensor's Maximiliano Pereira fired a 25-metre shot against the underside of the crossbar.

Defensor had Carlos Diaz sent off in the 81st minute after he was booked for an innocuous challenge on Diego Gavilan. A furious Diaz squared up to the Paraguayan and appeared to punch him on the chin.

Gremio had Amoroso dismissed in stoppage-time for kicking Diego de Souza in the face.

Defensor blew their chances in the shootout when Fernando Fadeuille blasted their first effort against the crossbar and Danilo Peinado skied the second over the top.

The semi-final line-up will be completed on Thursday when Paraguayan champions Libertad host five-times winners Boca Juniors in Asuncion, having drawn the first leg 1-1 away.

The winners will play Colombian champions Cucuta.