Yesterday against Santos Palmeiras played if not their best then certainly one of their best games this season. Speed, passing accuracy, determination, aggressive defence, fast counterattacks. It was impressive to watch, especially in the first half. Palmeiras dominated Santos fair and square, creating numerous opportunities. The line-up for the night: Bruno; João Vitor (João Denoni, 36′ 2nd H), Leandro Amaro, Maurício Ramos and Juninho; Henrique, Corrêa, Valdivia and Mazinho (Obina, 24′ 2nd H; Barcos and Betinho (Vinícius 45′ 2nd H).
The goal was pending and was released when for the day excellent Corrêa found the net from outside the penalty area at the end of the half. Unfortunately, Palmeiras enjoyed little the supremacy in the score as Neymar only four minutes later equalised with a perfect free kick that hit the goalpost on the way in.
The second half resembled the first, with Palmeiras calling the shots. With tension rising the referee started distributing yellow cards. Suddenly, that bucket of cold water: you just can’t give Neymar any space. None. Whatsoever. He received the ball outside the penalty area, surrounded by four Palmeiras players, turned and fired away rather unexpectedly. Bruno reacted too late and the second goal, again by touching the right goalpost, was a fact. Yes, it was an unexpected shot but a class A keeper must expect the unexpected, especially from a player like Neymar. The shot was defendable.
Bruno shouldn’t be crucified, as Palmeiras created many chances and should have equalised. Barcos had the golden opportunity with minutes from the final whistle, alone with the keeper, but didn’t follow the manual and headed high instead of towards the ground.
Leaving the derby empty-handed was extremely bad and left Palmeiras in the bottom four halfway through the Brazilian Championship. The result did not reflect the game as it unfolded, but did indeed reflect how decisive Neymar can be and normally is.
If Palmeiras play like this the rest of the championship, there’s no chance in hell this team’s going down. That said, It would be great to start living it and not only say it.