BOCA RATON, FL -- Two of today's matches in the Florida Cup took place in Boca Raton at FAU Stadium. First on the docket was Atlético Mineiro facing Corinthians in an all-Brazil match-up that could shape the upcoming Campeonato Brasileiro Série A season. The second was between Independiente Santa Fe, the first ever Colombian club to ever win the Copa Sudamerica, and the NASL's Fort Lauderdale Strikers -- lone American representative in the tournament.
Atlético Mineiro 1-0 Corinthians
Atlético needed all three points from today's match to overtake Bayer Leverkusen in the Florida Cup standings and win the tournament, and they would start the match motivated, seeking opportunities early. Atlético Mineiro opened possession by trying to feed Jesus Datolo down the right flank. Atlético had the first opportunity in the second minute off a Rafael Carioca strike from the edge of the box that was quickly knocked out for a corner. in the fourth minute, Thiago Ribeiro tried to feed Datolo with a through ball into Corinthians’ box, but the pass was too far ahead and keeper Victor Leandro was able to collect it.
Atlético Mineiro continued to apply pressure in the eighth minute but couldn’t capitalize as Datolo was judged to be offside on a Ribeiro pass into the box.
Corinthians countered with Victor in the attacking third but he too was adjudged to be offside. Victor had another opportunity moments later in the 10th minute, but his attempt was blocked out for a corner that Corinthians couldn’t capitalize on.
Pitch conditions at midfield were an issue as Datolo lost possession in the middle of the pitch and kicked up a cloud of dirt. Prior to college football season ending, the stadium hosted the Boca Raton Bowl which, if you didn't know was a thing, I couldn't say I blamed you. Mineiro had a brilliant chance off a Lucas Pratto cross that Ribeiro skied over the net from point-blank range. Corinthians had an another opportunity from a Rodriguinho strike in the 16th minute from just outside the box that struck the cross bar. Corinthians captain Danilo found the back of the net on a little flick in the 18th minute, but was ruled offside. Atlético dominated possession early on, but Corinthians found ways to counter.
In the 25th minute, Pratto had a good run into the right side of the box but his cross couldn’t find a teammate to open the scoring. Corinthians then had an opportunity from about 10 yards outside the box, but, Rodriguinho’s free kick hit the wall and Atlético cleared the danger.
Corinthians avoided disaster as Datolo’s strike in the 29th minute hit the bar and the resulting rebound found its way back to Atlético’s Luan, whose shot was saved again by Victor and went behind for a corner.
In the 37th minute, after a spell of back-and-forth possession, Atlético earned a corner that was cleared but recovered by Douglas Santos, who sent a shot high and wide over the net. The score remained level at 0-0 as the teams headed into the half.
Substitute Hyuri Henrique finally opened the scoring for Atlético in the 57th minute, slipping into the box unmarked to tap home Ribeiro’s cross with a light touch on an undefended goal.
Douglas Santos provided another opportunity for Atlético in the 79th minute with a run into the box but his shot went directly to the keeper. in the 87th minute Corinthians earned a free kick from 20 yards outside the box that began a spell of pressure on Atlético Mineiro but couldn't get a shot in while in their area. The effort was too little too late as Atlético ended up with the better of the opportunities as they headed into injury time, where a Patrick cross found Hyuri, but the finish found only the crossbar. Shortly thereafter, the whistle blew to end the game 1-0.
With six points, Atlético has the tournament sewn up.
Santa Fe 2-1 Fort Lauderdale Strikers
I'm sorry I buried the lede with that whole "two biggest clubs in Brazil played each other in America thing" but, y'all, a goalkeeper scored a penalty. (!) In the second minute, Santa Fe was awarded a penalty when Juan Roa was pulled down inside the box. Santa Fe goalkeeper Robinson Zapata lined up to take the penalty and actually managed to send Strikers keeper Bruno Cardoso the opposite way, blasting the ball home to put his team up 1-0. If Zapata isn't named MVP of the tournament and doesn't take home the Golden Mickey*, it's a travesty.
*Note, this is actually a thing.
The Strikers got their first opportunity in the sixth minute when Andre Skidas got his head on Adrianinho's free kick, but it was cleared off the line by defender William Tesillo.
In the 33rd minute, Carlos Ibarguen collected a rebound after an initial Cardoso save and drove home a strike before the keeper was able to adjust and backpedal towards the ball The goal doubled the lead for the Colombian club, making it 2-0 for Santa Fe. In the 35th minute, the first yellow card of the match was given to Santa Fe's Yulian Anchico for a foul on Julius James. Before the half, Antony Otero subbed on for Ibarguen, pulled up limping.
Santa Fe retained much of the possession until the half ended with the Colombians ahead, 2-0.
The second half started with Santa Fe making some changes, bringing in Carlos Rivas (no, not that one), Leandro Castellanos, Sebastian Salazar, Omar Perez, and Sergio Otálvaro. The Strikers countered by only bringing on Paulo Cesar for Skidas.
In the 51st minute, Brazilian PC (Victor Pagliari Giro) created an opportunity for Fort Lauderdale but none of his teammates were available to receive his cross. The Strikers made a substitution, with Peruvian Aurelio Saco Vértiz coming on for Luis Zapata. Later on, in the 58th minute, Santa Fe's Juan David Valencia was shown a yellow card for his foul on PC. Moments later, Fort Lauderdale's Geison Moura had a wonderful strike from just outside the box that was pawed away by the Santa Fe keeper. Moura would try to keep things going for the Strikers, but his eagerness would net him a yellow card in the 65th minute. Later, Victor Pineda replaced Neil Hlavatay.
Around the 71st minute, after a hard foul on Strikers' Moura from Santa Fe Captain Omar Perez, the two clubs met and words were exchanged as Michael Jackson's "Beat It" video was reenacted with no physical altercation occurring.
Santa Fe was awarded another penalty in the 77th minute after James went over. Omar Perez took the spot kick but it sailed harmlessly over the net. PC finally cut the Santa Fe lead in half with a golazo off a free kick from about five yards outside the box that hit the bottom of the crossbar and deflected in.
It wasn't enough to change the decision, as the game ended 2-1, with Santa Fe taking home all three points. The Colombians depart with a win and a loss, while the Strikers conclude their tournament with a pair of losses.
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The tournament concludes Wednesday with a pair of matches. Fluminense and Internacional will square off at Lockhart Stadium in Fort Lauderdale. Corinthians will face Shakhtar Donetsk at ESPN Wide World of Sports in Orlando. Both games will start at 6:45 p.m.