In what possibly was the best game of football played so far this year in Brazil, Santos suffered a 2-1 defeat to Palmeiras in the ninth round of the Paulista Championship. Last time Palmeiras walked away with three points from the Vila Belmiro was in 2011.
Palmeiras came strong, the line-up consisting of Prass; Jean, Mina, Dracena and Zé Roberto; Melo; Tchê Tchê, Guerra, Keno and Dudu; Borja.
In spite of the rain, the game was highly paced and technical, both sides playing offensive football. Many clear opportunities were created on both sides, Santos perhaps producing the most, but we went to halftime goalless thanks to absolutely outstanding keeper performance on both sides. The scenario pretty much repeated during most of the second half, until Ricardo Oliveira opened up the scorecard with 29 minutes on the clock, forcing Palmeiras coach Baptista to go all in. Egídio already on the flank, dislocating Zé Roberto to the centre (Guerra out), Baptista now promoted Willian and Róger Guedes on behalf of Zé and Keno. Palmeiras became extremely offensive, but kept cool, working the ball. Santos succumbed to pressure, allowing the equalizer as Jean took an unlikely shot from a bad angle with five minutes to go. A few minutes later, the virada: Guedes, also on the right flank, went deep and crossed low, where Willian materialized to stuff the net. Glorious.
The result mathematically secures Palmeiras a spot in the quarterfinals. For Palmeiras, the three remaining rounds in the group stage will be used to give bench players more pitch time, while guarding first position in the overall score, as that translates into home advantage in the semi-finals and finals. Next up, Mirassol.
Scoppia che la vittoria è nostra!