Copa Sudamericana Final: Relgation bound Goias cause an upset

Goias 2 Independiente 0
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The Independent Football

An ill-tempered first leg clash in the final of 2010 Copa Sudamericana saw the hosts on top as Argentinian opposition came away battered and bruised from Brazil.

Goias may already be condemned to relegation but Independiente found out that nothing comes for free when face-to-face with eleven Brazilians on a football pitch

A brace of close range strikes in the space of five first half minutes see the club from the heart of the Samba Nation take a 2-0 lead to Buenos Aires next week.

Because this was a South American cup final of course the build-up boasted its fair share of controversy. What really happened on the Goias' training ground earlier this week to bring striker Rafael Moura to blows with a team-mate? Should Independiente even be allowed to play the final after an opposition goalkeeper was struck on the head by a rock courtesy of their supporters in an earlier round?

Many pundits gave Serie B bound Goias little to no chance in the match, others who thought they may sneak a result even suggested if they did win they should denied entry to next year's Copa Libertadores. A berth in South America's premier club competition has been offered as a carrot this season in an attempt to bestow the Copa Sudamericana with a little more prestige. For a team already relegated from Brazil's top flight to be 2-0 up at half-time its questionable how much polish has actually rubbed off on the cup.

Its not as if Independiente are any great shakes at the moment either, they stand third from bottom in Argentina's Primera División. What was suppose to see the team from Avellaneda over the line however was the Místico qualities of El Rey de Copas. With seven Copa Libertadores titles in a single 20 year stretch its hard to deny the club has cup pedigree.

Before any goals arrived in the game Independiente's defensive pair of Julián Velázquez and Leonel Galeano had their names taken by Paraguayan referee Carlos Torres. Both challenges were closer to clumsy rather than reckless and set the tone for what was to come in the following ten minutes of the match.

A loose ball was hammered against the shins of Lucas Mareque by Carlos Alberto of Goias as the opponents contested a 50-50 on the edge of the Independiente box. The flight of the ball fell in favour of the hosts and presented Rafael Moura with a gilt edged chance from four yards out which he duly slotted home, taking his tournament tally to seven.

Before the Argentinians had chance to take stock of the situation they found their margin of deficit doubled. The dynamic Marcelo Costa burst forward from midfield before feeding the willing run of Goias right wing-back Douglas. A drilled cross arrived at the feet of on loan striker Otacílio Neto who calmly steered the ball past Hilario Navarro.

With only twenty minutes played the carnival started up early in the stands of the Serra Dourada as Goias' green army forgot all about the seven games without a win which sealed their exit from Brazil's first tier. The remainder of the first half saw a shell shocked Independiente surrender any sign of attack to a Goias defence expertly marshalled by veteran centre-back Marcão.

Even with Harlei electing to punch away any crosses that came his way Independiente's attacking duo of Andrés Silvera and Facundo Parra were not alive to any of the scraps that came their way.

Conceding two sloppy goals in the first period had Independiente gaffer Antonio Mohamed choking on his Cuban cigar. His response at half-time was to thrown on playmaker Pato Rodríguez and the introduction encouraged a little more fluidity in the Independiente attack. With the visitors creating a few chances it looked as though an away goal could be there for the taking, that is until a member of El Rojo saw red.

Whilst backing into Goias defender Rafael Toloi Independiente's Silvera first planted his right forearm on the centre-back's face before finishing the job with his left elbow. It looked as though the Argentinian had got away with the offence due to referee Torres being unsighted but unfortunately for the visitors the fourth official enjoyed a clear view of the incident. After a brief discussion between the officials Silvera was sent packing for an early bath and took Independiente's chances of reestablishing a foothold in the game but down the tunnel with him.

Scarcely able to believe the way things were going Artur Neto's Goias team failed to go for the jugular in the remaining half hour of the match. This was partly down to them sitting on what they had and also the defensive shifts put in by Eduardo Tuzzio and Roberto Battión in and around the Independiente penalty area.

Even with the Copa Sudamericana final swung fully in favour of the Brazilians at the midway point there were no celebrations to be seen on the Serra Dourada pitch after the full-time whistle. For their part, Independiente can look back on having overturned away defeats in Quito and Montevideo already in the competition.

With Goias proving they have the stomach for the fight and Independiente putting all their eggs in their Estadio Libertadores de América basket it would take a brave Místico to predict the outcome of this one.

Tim Sturtridge presents The Independent's South American Football Show. You can listen to it hear?