In a game not carrying much weight for Palmeiras, the green side fielded an alternative line-up and comfortably beat an Ituano fighting for a place in the quarterfinals (which they ended up losing due to poorer goal balance). The one true incentive for Palmeiras in the game was to maintaining the distance to the chasing teams, thus keeping the advantage of playing the second-leg of upcoming rounds at home.
The players lined-up for Palmeiras were a little bit different, but the attitude was the same as against São Paulo. The team started the match with more ball possession and had their first chance in the 6th minute: Bruno Henrique took a free kick just wide of the Ituano keeper’s left post. Palmeiras had another free kick in the 12th minute, but Scarpa’s shot exploded on Ituano’s wall of players. The deflected shot awarded Palmeiras a corner, but Guerra’s was an easy save for Wagner.
Palmeiras were in control created many opportunities to open the score. Scarpa was Palmeiras’ most dangerous player and fired away many times from outside the box. In the 43th minute, it paid off: Guerra received the ball deep from Tchê Tchê, looked up and passed the ball diagonally to Scarpa, progressing inside the box to place the ball in the keeper’s top right corner, completely out of reach. Palmeiras went into the lockers in the lead.
The second half was a reproduction of the first one: Palmeiras creating many opportunities and Ituano a semi-chance here and there, all well saved by Weverton. In the 17th minute Palmeiras increased their lead in similar fashion to the first goal: Gustavo Scarpa, left footed shot, in the top right corner, but now from the left side of the box instead of the right.
Even ahead by two goals, Palmeiras did not slow their rhythm, many of the substitutes eager to show they deserved their spot in the starting eleven. The third came when Juninho, positioned as left-defender, found Fernando with a ground cross clear inside the box – the kid had been on for only three minutes – to score his first goal as a professional player for Palmeiras.
The players in green and white were looking for more and almost scored in three other opportunities before the final whistle. The best one was Scarpa’s, a shot from 2 meter’s distance blocked by a defender to deny him the hat-trick.
The tedious first stage of the São Paulo state Championship is over. Palmeiras ended this luxurious pre-season, where players suffer injuries due to the bad state of pitches and coaches are fired because of bad results, as the best team of the tournament: 26 points (first position), best attack (16 goals), best defense (8 goals) and top-scorer (Borja, 6 goals).
Tomorrow Tuesday the 13th, in the morning, the Paulista Football Federation will define day and time of the quarter-finals. Palmeiras will play Novorizontino, the first leg this upcoming Saturday or Sunday, and the decisive leg taking place at the Allianz Parque, probably on Thursday the 22nd. Finally, the Paulistão has begun!
Scoppia che la vittoria è nostra!
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by Augusto Anteghini Oazi