Palmeiras 2-0 São Paulo – crunch time

It was Palmeiras’ 100th game at the Allianz Parque. It was the 6th clash at the Allianz Parque featuring São Paulo at the other end. The result was the same as in the previous five matches: Palmeiras victory. The green side put out an almost perfect performance, to the delight of the 34.916 palmeirenses present.

Roger Machado lined up his usual starting eleven and, induced by the atmosphere of the stadium, Palmeiras started pressing São Paulo’s defensive line, provoking the arch-enemy to many failed passes. In the 4th minute, the first opportunity: Marcos Rocha took a short corner and Dudu almost found Borja clear inside the box. Five minutes later, Lucas Lima took another corner and this time, Antônio Carlos headed Palmeiras into the lead. 

Behind in the score, the opponent unsuccessfully tried to level, Palmeiras keeping up their initial rhythm and creating more opportunities. The second goal came in the 31st minute: Borja recovered the ball, passed it to Dudu who crossed it masterly to Victor Luiz, who met it with a beautiful volley. São Paulo goalkeeper Jean blocked the shot but Borja was unforgiving on the rebound and scored his 7th goal in 2018. 

In the last five minutes of the first half, Palmeiras almost scored a third: first through Willian (beautiful save from Jean) and Dudu (going wide).

2018.03.08 - Pal-SP
Teams ready for the second half (photo credits: Augusto Oazi)

Dorival burned his three alterations in halftime, trying to fix his mistakes on the line-up. The game got more interesting: while Palmeiras was finding the path to São Paulo’s goal easier, the Tricolor had an opportunity and hit the wood with Trelléz. 

São Paulo’s enthusiasm did not last too long, Palmeiras defensive line well organized. Machado made his subs before the 30-minute mark, with Scarpa, Thiago Santos and Moisés coming on for Willian, Felipe Mello and Bruno Henrique, respectively. In the 32nd minute, Palmeiras’ had a golden opportunity to end the abstinence of not having scored a free kick goal in more than three years, but Jean saved the well-placed shot from Lucas Lima. 

Palmeiras remained superior in the game. In the 37th minute, Borja scored but the referee ruled it offside (Borja’s position seemed fine on the replay). On stoppage time, Palmeiras’ supporters started the Olé against a helpless São Paulo; Lucas Lima dribbled some opponents and passed the ball to Marcos Rocha, who almost scored in the dying minute.

With the three fresh points, Palmeiras now sum 23, securely in first position in the group. The opponent in the quarterfinals is already known: Novorizontino. Upcoming Sunday, Verdão play their last match of the group stage. Against Ituano, Roger will probably line up the substitutes to avoid any regular player being suspended going into the knockout phase.

Scoppia che la vittoria è nostra!

– – – ooo – – –
by Augusto Anteghini Oazi

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