Nagjee Cup: Atletico Paranaense advances to semi-final

Paranaense had required only a draw on this night to reach the last four, but it secured a berth in the semi-final through a hard-fought victory against Rapid Bucharest.

Atletico Paranaense’s Wesley da Silva attempts a header in the match against Rapid Bucharest in the Sait Nagjee international football tournament   -  K. Ragesh

They had impressed greatly on the opening night and on Saturday, the boys from Atletico Paranaense became the first team to advance to the semi-finals of the Mahindra & Mahindra Sait Nagjee international football tournament.

They did that with a 1-0 win against Rapid Bucharest of Romania at the Corporation Stadium. The win took them to the top of Group A with seven points. Rapid, with just a solitary point, ended up in the bottom.

For the second semi-final slot from the group, England’s Watford will clash with Volyn Lutsk of Ukraine.

Paranaense had required only a draw on this night to reach the last four, but it didn’t exactly seem to be settling for that. It made a few promising moves from early on in the game, especially on the left wing, but could not quite finish off them.

In the 10th minute, Joao Pedro Silva provided an excellent pass, from the left, to Yago da Silva, who forwarded it to the box, but Kaio Pantaleao failed to connect. Four minutes later, there was another threatening move from the right wing featuring Joao and Pantaaleao, which also met a similar end.

The Brazilians got more opportunities in the opening half. There were scoring chances for Rapid, too, like the one in the 33rd minute, when Iulian Popal failed to convert the opportunity that arose from an excellent corner kick taken by Vladut Morar.

The teams went to the interval at 0-0.

In the 64th minute, the deadlock was finally broken, by Mauricio Santos, who had come in for an injured Joao. It was a lovely goal; a series of quick, short passes down the left was given the perfect finishing touch, from close in, by Santos, after being fed by another substitute, Nicolas da Silva.

It wasn’t among the more thrilling encounters of the tournament; the five yellow cards did not help, either.

On Sunday, Argentina Under-23 takes on Shamrock Rovers of Ireland.

The result: Atletico Paranaense 1 (Mauricio Santos 64) bt Rapid Bucharest 0.

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