In a traditional effort to keep the bipolar approach to all things Palmeiras, the team surprised practically everyone and walked away from the Olímpico stadium with three points in the bag; something we haven’t seen happening against Grêmio on their home turf for the last 10 years. Apart from breaking this decade-long taboo, the result surely serves as fuel for the squad and boosts morale just in time for the derby against São Paulo FC on Sunday.
Again, Scolari tried a different formation, this time with Vitor on the right flank and Araújo replacing Pierre in the middle. Valdivia once more started on the bench. Palmeiras – with Deola; Vitor, Danilo, Maurício Ramos and Rivaldo; Edinho, Márcio Araújo, Marcos Assunção and Tinga (Pierre); Kleber and Ewerthon (Valdivia) – was heavily exposed to the traditional Grêmio blitz during the first 15 minutes of the game. However, in a rapid counter attack, Ewerthon was pulled down close to the penalty area and Marcos Assunção stepped up, as we’re getting used to by now. And just as against Vitória, with uncanny precision he drew the ball high over the defending wall of Grêmio players and into the left top corner, out of possibly even Superman’s reach.
The goal came as a cold shower for Grêmio. Although the Porto Alegre team tried keeping the pressure up, Palmeiras supported it well and the defence worked solidly. After a dangerous header from André Lima, Deola really had to stretch out in full length to tip the ball over the crossbar, but that was as close as it got to an equaliser.
Two minutes into the second half, a great cross from the man of the match Assunção found Ewerthon alone with the goalkeeper. A firm diving header in great style, and we had 0-2 on the scoreboard. The rest of the game Palmeiras played it safe, only investing in the occasional counter attack. In the final minutes Grêmio did score a goal, but soon enough the referee blew the whistle. Watch the highlights below.
The only negative aspect of greater importance is that Kleber and Edinho are out of the derby against São Paulo, as they both received their third yellow card. Attention will naturally turn to Valdivia, who has a history of making a difference in these important games against traditional rivals. Let’s hope he shows more of his magic on Sunday!