Not that the game was executed in slow motion, but there was something not quite right. Universitario de Sucre tried to pace things up, but again and again fell short due to lack of quality players in their squad. And Palmeiras… Well, only a few players showed good flow: Kléber (as always), Tinga and Gabriel Silva were their usual selves. The rest resembled more runners in a swamp. Marcos Assunção seemed unable to lift from the ground. And Edinho, feeling ill moments before the game, didn’t even make it onto the pitch and was replaced by Pierre.
During moments like these, individual skill and inspiration counts more than ever. Free kick for Palmeiras 3-4 meters from the penalty area, slightly to the left. Seen this clip before? One, two steps and bang! perfectly placed in the goalkeepers right upper corner. Assunção, of course. With the ball in play, he today made Palmeiras look like a man short. But close to the penalty area and able to prepare his set piece, I’d say there’s no one deadlier than him right now.
Apart from the goal, the only thing worth mentioning in the first half was Valdivia feeling the back of his thigh and giving place to Lincoln with roughly ten minutes left.
The second half started even slower that the first, but after ten minutes suddenly went into high gear. Every meter, every ball; nothing came for free. Sucre drew closer, had several corners, hit the goalpost and forced Deola to operate small miracles at various occasions. Things were looking grim, with still 25 minutes left of the game. And the script was maintained, with Sucre putting pressure on and Palmeiras defending and investing in the occasional counter attack; one of these resulting in a goal by Lincoln that the lineman incorrectly dismissed as offside.
The end result was 0-1 but the victory came at a quite hefty price: Valdivia, Mauricio Ramos and Pierre were all substituted because of injury; let’s hope none of them to serious. Unfortunately, it is likely that Valdivia’s will keep him off the pitch for at least 2-3 weeks.
Watch the game highlights here.