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Campeonato Paulista Final Round a Nail-Biter
The last teams to qualify for the semifinal made it in the final round
Gabriel Fuhrmann Tranquilli Barbosa (gabriel89)     Email Article  Print Article 
Published 2009-04-06 10:46 (KST)   
Everybody was expecting an exciting last round for this Campeonato Paulista. I bet no one imagined that this round would be through so many changes on the qualifying board during the games.

When the round began Palmeiras, Sao Paulo, Corinthians and Santos were qualifying for the semifinals, exactly in this order, and it ended just like this, but this was decided only in the last minute of the round.

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All games began at the same time and eyes were on Portuguesa - Santo Andre; Ponte Preta - Santos; Sao Caetano - Sao Paulo; Palmeiras - Botafogo - SP.

Portuguesa, Santo Andre and Santos were deciding the last one to qualify. With 22 minutes of the first half over, Portuguesa opened up the scoreboard against Santo Andre and with the tie between Ponte Preta and Santos, was already qualifying for the semifinal. Seven minutes later, Portuguesa scored its second goal and Ponte Preta - Santos was still a draw. Winning by a difference of two goals, Portuguesa had only to hope Santos wouldn't win by two either. At 39 minutes of the first half, Santos scored 1 - 0, but it wasn't enough to go to the semifinals.

The situation got worst for Santos and better for Portuguesa when at seven seconds of the second half Ponte Preta scored a tying goal, and it got even worse when Ponte Preta made a turnover at the four minute mark of the second half. The result was totally for Portuguesa, even with the goal scored by Santo Andre. The 2 - 1 winning result pushed Portuguesa to the semifinals.

In the last eight minutes of the matches, it looked like everything was decided. Portuguesa would qualify for the semifinal. But Kleber Pereira scored a goal making it 2 - 2 in the 39th minute of the second half and at the 43th minute on a controversial penalty, making the turnover 3 - 2. With both teams -- Portuguesa and Santos -- winning by a difference of one goal, Santos qualified in a nail-biting finish.

Watch the goals from Ponte Preta 2 - 3 Santos. Unfortunately, the match between Portuguesa and Santo Andre wasn't broadcast and so there aren't videos for this match.

Fighting for first place were Sao Paulo and Palmeiras. Even with the first place in game, Sao Paulo played the match with its substitute players. Sao Paulo had to win and root against Palmeiras to get to the first place.

At the 19th minute of the first half, Sao Paulo scored. With the tie between Palmeiras and Botafogo - SP, Sao Paulo was in first place, but at the 38th minute Sao Caetano made it 1 - 1 taking Sao Paulo out of first place. This situation didn't stay that way for too long; two minutes later; Sao Paulo scored its second goal and was again leading the tournament, and it looked like everything was going for Sao Paulo when Botafogo - SP scored 1 - 0 against Palmeiras.

In the second half of both games, Sao Paulo and Palmeiras switched places again. It took only 15 minutes for Palmeiras to score two goals and get back to first place. Palmeiras held the result and won its game, guaranteeing the top spot. Sao Paulo suffered a goal from Sao Caetano in the last minute of the game, making it 2 - 2, but it didn't make any difference.

Watch the goals of those matches: Sao Caetano 2 - 2 Sao Paulo Palmeiras 2 - 1 Botafogo-SP.

In the semifinals, Pameiras (1st placed) will confront Santos (4th placed) in home and away matches. The advantage is for Palmeiras; it needs two equal results to go to the final. This means that if it loses by 1 - 0 in the first game, it needs only to win by 1 - 0 in the second game.

Sao Paulo (2nd placed) will confront Corinthians (3rd placed). The schedule is the same as Palmeiras and Santos, and the advantage is of two equal results for Sao Paulo.

Despite of all this action at the top of the table, the four teams that were relegated to the second division are: Guaratingueta -- was in the Campeonato Paulista semifinals last year --; Marilia; Guarani and Noroeste de Bauru.

For the first time what everyone always expected finally happened. Sao Paulo's four major teams qualified for the semifinals since the championship was set up this way in 2006. It will definitely be an exciting final round.

©2009 OhmyNews
Other articles by reporter Gabriel Fuhrmann Tranquilli Barbosa

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