- Associated Press - Sunday, April 26, 2015

SAO PAULO (AP) - Striker Leandro Pereira scored in the first half to give Palmeiras a 1-0 win over Santos in the first leg of the Sao Paulo state final Sunday.

In Rio de Janeiro, Vasco da Gama edged Botafogo 1-0 at the Maracana Stadium to take the lead in that state tournament.

Palmeiras had a chance to take a bigger advantage into the second leg in Santos next weekend, but striker Dudu missed a 60th-minute penalty kick, striking the crossbar. Santos played a man down after the penalty because defender Paulo Ricardo was sent off for the foul inside the area.

A draw at the Vila Belmiro Stadium will be enough to give Palmeiras its first state title since 2008. Santos is playing in its seventh straight final, but it hasn’t won the tournament since 2012.

Pereira scored in the 30th minute with a shot from inside the area after a low cross by right back Lucas, igniting the record crowd of nearly 40,000 at Palmeiras’ recently built Allianz Parque.

Both teams loudly complained about the officiating crew and both coaches were sent off at halftime. Palmeiras coach Oswaldo de Oliveira watched the rest of the match from the stands, along with the fans.

Palmeiras played without Chile midfielder Jorge Valdivia, while Santos was without former Brazil striker Robinho. Both players are expected to be fit again in time for next Sunday’s match. Palmeiras had the return of World Cup veteran playmaker Ze Roberto, who was nursing a muscle injury.

In his match report, referee Vinicius Furlan said Valdivia had harsh some words with the officiators in the changing rooms, accusing them of being “thieves.” The incident may lead to the Chilean’s suspension from the second leg.

Palmeiras and Santos, the Brazilian teams with the most national titles with eight each, hadn’t played in a state final since 1959.

In Rio de Janeiro, Vasco da Gama defeated Botafogo 1-0 thanks to an injury-time goal by substitute striker Rafael Silva, who beat the defenders to a free kick cross inside the area to score with a left-footed shot.

Vasco is trying to win its first state title since 2003. Botafogo, which will play in the second division of the Brazilian league this year, lifted the state trophy in 2013.

Regional championships are played in the first few months of the season in Brazil, with the Brazilian league beginning in May and ending in December.

In the Rio Grande do Sul state tournament, Luiz Felipe Scolari’s Gremio was held to a 0-0 draw with rival Internacional in front of nearly 47,000 fans at the Arena Gremio. The hosts played a man down from the 63rd after defender Pedro Geromel was red carded for a hard foul.

In Minas Gerais state, Atletico Mineiro was held to a 0-0 draw against Caldense in front of nearly 54,000 Atletico fans at the Mineirao Stadium. Caldense eliminated Cruzeiro in the semifinals.


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