Palmeiras finally give signs of recovering from the dramatic dip in performance and confidence ever since that defeat against Corinthians in early April. Already knocked out of the São Paulo Championship, Wednesday’s away game against Paraná was crucial. The result – a win by the score of two goals to one – leaves Palmeiras in good conditions to secure a spot in the quarter-finals of the Brazil Cup. The second leg will be played on 9 or 10 April.
Scolari provoked some changes to the squad, swapping heavily criticised Deola for second keeper Bruno, promoting recently arrived Mazinho on Luan (suspended) and Valdivia pairing with Barcos. Both Bruno and Mazinho left good to great impressions, partly comforting the supporter fearing a more acute lack of options on the bench. Especially Deola might have to get used to playing second violin. For how long, only time will tell.
The pitch of the Durival de Britto stadium in Coritiba endured perfectly well the hours of heavy rain and permitted a good game of football. The wetness even proved an ally for the lethal professional named Marcos Assunção. With uncanny precision he opened up the scorecard with a textbook free kick: over the wall, centimetres from the post, dropping to hit the slippery grass only a meter or so in front of the diving keeper. Unfortunately, minutes later he left the pitch due to pains in a leg and a few ribs – injuries contracted during the game against Guarani.
Overall, Palmeiras dominated the action but suffered the equalizer before halftime in one of Paranás few opportunities. Luckily, this time nerves stayed in place and our players methodically continued creating opportunities, not least through Mazinho’s investments on the left flank. It was however the opportunist Patrik who recovered a ball deep in enemy territory and rapidly advanced into the penalty zone before being summarily mowed down by a Paraná defender. While Valdivia discussed with the referee, calling for a yellow card, centre-back Henrique stepped up and placed the ball on the chalk. He slammed the penalty high and hard in the middle, closing the scorecard. A good result, actually great considering the circumstances. Highlights below.
With two weeks to rest and practice, the squad has plenty of time to get prepared for the return game. Felipão should have Daniel Carvalho and Assunção once again at his disposal. It takes just one victory to make palmeirenses smile again.