Palmeiras beats rival Corinthians on penalties, reaches Sao Paulo state final against Santos

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    SAO PAULO — Goalkeeper Fernando Prass saved two penalties as Palmeiras defeated rival Corinthians 6-5 in a shootout Sunday to reach the final of the Sao Paulo state championship.

    Prass came up big in the shootout after the teams drew 2-2 in the semifinal. It will be Palmeiras' first final in the traditional regional tournament since it won the competition in 2008.

    Palmeiras' opponent will be Santos, which eliminated Sao Paulo 2-1 at the Vila Belmiro stadium to reach its seventh-straight final. Santos won three titles but was runner-up the last two years.

    In the Rio de Janeiro state championship, Vasco da Gama defeated Flamengo 1-0 at the Maracana Stadium to reach the final against Botafogo, which eliminated Fluminense on Saturday 9-8 on penalties.

    Corinthians, which had the competition's best campaign, was trying to return to the Sao Paulo final again after winning the title in 2013.

    Elias had a chance to win the shootout for Corinthians, but the Brazil midfielder's spot kick was stopped by Prass. The goalkeeper later also saved Petro's shot, sealing Palmeiras' victory in front of nearly 40,000 rival fans at the Itaquerao stadium. Palmeiras made every penalty after Robinho sent his shot over the crossbar in the team's first attempt.

    "It was a huge victory," Prass said. "We are through, now it's time to start thinking about the final."

    Palmeiras defender Victor Ramos opened the scoring in the 13th minute, but Corinthians rallied with goals by Danilo in the 34th and Colombian forward Stiven Mendoza in the 44th. Palmeiras' equalizer came with a header by striker Rafael Marques in the 75th.

    "Gladly the ball went in and kept us alive to decide the match in the shootout," Marques said.

    Palmeiras, led by Chilean playmaker Jorge Valdivia, was without injured World Cup veteran left back Ze Roberto, while Corinthians' Peru striker Paolo Guerrero was nursing dengue fever.

    In Rio, Vasco da Gama defeated Flamengo with a penalty kick converted by Gilberto in the 62nd minute. The teams had drawn 0-0 in the first leg last week.

    Vasco da Gama was runner-up to Flamengo in last year's final.

    Botafogo, which won the tournament in 2013, advanced to the final on Saturday after a shootout decided after 22 penalties. Botafogo goalkeeper Renan converted the final shot just after Fluminense goalkeeper Diego Cavalieri sent his attempt over the crossbar.

    Botafogo won 2-1 at the Engenhao stadium to offset a loss by the same result in the first leg a week ago at the Maracana. Fluminense was without striker Fred, who was suspended for criticizing referees earlier in the tournament. Fred, Brazil's striker at the World Cup last year, had scored both goals for Fluminense in the first leg.

    In the Minas Gerais state championship, Argentine striker Lucas Pratto scored twice in Atletico Mineiro's 2-1 win over rival Cruzeiro at the Mineirao Stadium, leading his team to a final against Caldense. Uruguayan midfielder Giorgian De Arrascaeta scored Cruzeiro's goal. The teams had played to a 1-1 draw last week.


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