There are times when result is less important than performance. Times when you primarily want to see innovation, evolution, fighting spirit or whatever is perceived as missing at that particular moment. Yesterday was not one of those.
Not that Palmeiras are performing splendidly, far from it. But against Figueirense, result was everything. The order was to bag three points and diminish the gap to the G4. Bag the three, in whatever way.
It was a sufferable game to watch. Coach Oliveira opted for Robinho and Zé Roberto, but it wasn’t enough to equip Palmeiras with enough offensive creativity on the midfield. In addition, speed was lacking, making Figueirense’s defensive approach so much easier. A goalless first half and 23.000 supporters on the stands growing impatient.
Oliveira did the right thing and swapped Egídio – once again unproductive both in offence and defence – for Kelvin, just back from a spell with Brazil’s Olympic team. Kelvin occupied a centralised role, dislocating Zé Roberto to the left flank. The move paid off immediately: Kelvin induced a corner which resulted in Jackson opening up the scorecard. Immense relief. Palmeiras spend the rest of the second half slow-cooking the stew, Oliveira promoting Cristaldo on Alecsandro and then Girotto on Rafael Marques to clog up the midfield. 1-0 was the likely result, but at 42 minutes Zé Roberto was taken down and palmeirenses all over the world incredulously saw the referee signal a penalty – the first in favour of Palmeiras after 25 rounds of the Brazilian Championship. Zé Roberto securely defined 2-0 as the final score.
Palmeiras supporters will spend Sunday rooting against the four other teams directly competing with Palmeiras for that last spot in the G4: Flamengo, SPFC, Atlético Paranaense and Santos.
This while the Palmeiras squad gets ready to leave for Rio de Janeiro, where Fluminense await on the Wednesday. Palmeiras without Vítor Hugo (suspended) and Dudu (sitting off his third out of a six-game ban; more on this in the upcoming “Sonar pings”) but with Arouca back, expected to take up position alongside so far very good Thiago Santos.
Scoppia che la vittoria è nostra!