It was a good game, and it was ours from the very first minute to the last. Palmeiras dominated Corinthians, attacking in wave after wave, and with 20 minutes of play the goal seemed just a matter of time. But when you think you’ve seen it all…
The playwriter’s pen must’ve run short on ink and there I imagine the Devil standing, jeerfully offering his spare one. What followed was a cirque des horreurs: Danilo completely lost his head and, on Corinthians’ half of the pitch, went full throttle and spikes first in direction of the ball and also Liedson; only luck saved the Corinthians striker from breaking a leg. Red card for Danilo. In my opinion, well deserved.
More people lost their heads. Shortly after Danilo had been sent off, Scolari got into a heated argument with Tite. I’m sure we’ll learn the details later, but the end result I do know: Scolari expelled from the grounds and Tite standing there, with an odd, slightly pleased but not too pleasant expression on his face.
Are we done? Not quite. Cicinho, whom we thought had recovered from that strain in the pubis area, felt the injury again and had to be substituted already in the first half. He joined El Mago on the bench (are you ready for the cherry on the cake?); Valdivia felt that wretched sharp pain in the back of his thigh and had to leave the pitch directly after executing… the vacuum kick. What a bad joke.
With this, the Devil seemed pleased and let things run its course. And what we saw was a brave and determined Palmeiras, with the biggest of hearts, playing as equals against Corinthians. The team was down to ten men, the offensive centre and right pieces were missing, but that didn’t mean a thing: the team was all over the place, every green warrior did his outmost. It was beautiful. And the 34.000 palmeirenses on the stands corresponded, carrying the team forward.
In the early minutes of the second half, Assunção took a corner and Leandro Amaro completed with a clean and indefensible header. Corinthians found their equalizer also on a corner, where Willian was allowed to stand unchallenged and pick the spot for his header: Palmeiras’ only major error on the night (obviously ignoring Danilo’s tilt earlier on). Both teams created more chances, with Palmeiras excelling in numbers and real opportunities; Assunção was key both when aiming straight for goal (a free kick that kissed the crossbar) and when finding Palmeiras’ forwards (as the first class cross that Luan met on volley, forcing Corinthians keeper Júlio César to a spectacular save). But we saw 1-1 at the blow of the whistle. Only a penalty shootout to decide which team to face Santos in the finals (Santos yesterday beat São Paulo 2-0).
Tension had been extremely high during the game, so there wasn’t really much to add in that respect. Still, players on both side seemed very cool and confident: after the initial round of penalties the score was 5-5; all penalties had been very well executed (Palmeiras players: Kleber, Marcos Assunção, Márcio Araújo, Luan e Thiago Heleno) Then, poor João Vitor missed his and Deola was unable to provide us with a miracle a lá São Marcos. In the end, Palmeiras 5-6 Corinthians, with Palmeiras eliminated from the São Paulo Cup anno 2011. Make sure to watch the highlights below.
Coming back to the headline: today’s result was unfortunate, yes it was. A promising outlook for the Paulistão was ruined, in particular due to one man’s hot head. But that’s all. Days, weeks and months of preparation haven’t been lost. Palmeiras today never backed down, never accepted anything but victory. Even loosing, all players radiated that spirit which is intimately linked with Palmeiras and its history: that of overcoming obstacles at any cost. Palmeiras, once again, made us proud. And glories lie ahead, rest assured.
The Paulistão is the lesser of this year’s tournaments. On Thursday, Coritiba awaits in the quarter-finals of the Brazilian Cup. A day to lick the wounds, then the Green Giant must pay full attention to the task ahead. Avanti!