Kickoff and Palmeiras supported well the initial pressure, marking high up on the opponents half and deploying speed in several surprising counter-attacks. Luan opened up the scorecard with a header after a corner. Barcos, Artur and Patrick Vieira had clear chances to score and could have decreed victory already in the first half. Instead, as usually happens, the pendulum swung back and Inter equalised through Fred, with the gaúchos increasingly finding spaces on Palmeiras’ right flank where Artur struggled defensively. We went tied to halftime.
Early into the second half, again after advancing on Palmeiras’ right flank and crossing the ball – this time to Rafael Moura – Palmeiras suffered the second blow of the afternoon. A third was to come, but of the least expected kind.
17th minute. Another corner for Palmeiras. Assunção took it and Barcos – unable to jump due to an Inter defender grappling him from behind – punched the ball into the back of the net. With his fist. Several Inter players saw this and immediately rushed towards the referee complaining. The referee – incredibly enough – had seen no irregularity and validated the goal. The linesmen, idem. And it was all quiet from the fourth referee. Inter’s players however continue complaining while TV spectators watched replay after replay, leaving no room for doubt: Barcos had clearly and intentionally executed the “Hand of God” stunt.
After a good two minutes, suddenly the referee changed his mind, disallowing the goal. He seemed on the verge of booking Barcos but then hesitated. Now it was Palmeiras’ time to feverishly complain, but to no use. The scorecard remained 2-1 until the final whistle.
Taynah Espinoza – a journalist at TV Bandeirantes working on the transmission of the game – confirms that a representative of the Brazilian Football Federation, a certain Gersen Baluta (smug-looking suit pictured above), sought information about the goal with the journalists and then proceeded informing the fourth referee; the fourth referee who in turn informed the referee, who then disallowed the goal.
Please understand that I’m not endorsing Barcos’ attitude here, but that goal HAD to be validated. Irregular goals are validated from time to time, just as regular goals are disallowed. We don’t have to like it, but it is and has always been “part of the game”, using one of the arguments that FIFA brings to the table in resisting the use of electronic aid during football games. I would love to see some change to this in the future but the fact is that today, referees acting upon “external” sources of information are in clear violation of FIFA regulations: a breach of this magnitude is reason enough to demand a rematch. Which Palmeiras should do, if they can in any way sustain their case. The stepping forward of the TV Bandeirantes journalist certainly helps.
The already difficult mission of avoiding relegation has become a little harder. Thankfully, Sport lost at home to São Paulo and, more importantly, Bahia only drew at home to Grêmio. Palmeiras are five points behind with five rounds to go. Hard, but not impossible. Especially considering how Palmeiras played yesterday (highlights below). There is quality enough in the squad. We just need a bit of luck. Actually quite some luck. And equal treatment.