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Santos set up Corinthians semifinal clash after Copa shootout

updated 9:21 AM EDT, Fri May 25, 2012
Striker Neymar, who has been linked with a host of European clubs, celebrates Santos' win.
Striker Neymar, who has been linked with a host of European clubs, celebrates Santos' win.
  • Santos will face Sao Paulo rivals Corinthians in Copa Libertadores semifinals
  • The reigning champions beat Argentina's Velez Sarsfield on penalties
  • Universidad de Chile beat Libertad of Paraguay in a shootout to reach the last four
  • The Chilean team will play Boca Juniors for a place in the final

(CNN) -- Reigning champions Santos set up a Copa Libertadores semifinal showdown with Sao Paulo rivals Corinthians after a nailbiting penalty shootout victory over Argentina's Velez Sarsfield.

Three-time winners Santos, trailing 1-0 heading into Thursday's second leg, were boosted when Velez goalkeeper Marcelo Barovero was sent off for bringing down attacking star Neymar.

The Brazilian giants struggled to make their numerical advantage count, but finally made the breakthrough after 77 minutes when striker Alan Kardec converted in fine fashion following good work from defender Leo.

In the shootout, Santos goalkeeper Rafael was the hero, with his save from fullback Emiliano Papa proving to be the difference between the two sides.

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"Velez were very difficult rivals, but I think we deserve the qualification," Rafael said on FIFA's official website.

"Now we have to work harder because Corinthians will be a harder challenge."

Corinthians, seeking a first win in South America's premier club competition, booked their place in the last four by defeating fellow Brazilians Vasco da Gama on Wednesday.

Thursday's other quarterfinal was also decided by a penalty shootout, with Universidad de Chile advancing at the expense of Paraguay's Libertad.

With the scores level at 1-1 after the first leg, Universidad drew first blood in front of their own fans through Marcelo Diaz's 18th-minute free-kick.

But just four minutes later, Universidad handed Libertad a lifeline when defender Osvaldo Gonzalez put the ball past his own goalkeeper to make the score 2-2 on aggregate.

Victor Hugo Ayala saw his spot kick saved by Universidad's Johnny Herrera, meaning the Chilean team set up a semifinal with Argentina's six-time champions Boca Juniors.

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