Palmeiras 1(5)-(3)2 Santos – is everybody alive?

Seems like Palmeiras have a deal with their supporters: when things look easy on paper, we are going to make things difficult so that you can suffer a bit and have your hearts tested. In a rainy game at a Pacaembu Stadium, packed with 34.739 palmeirenses, Santos managed to reverse Palmeiras advantage, only to be defeated in the penalty shootout.

Roger Machado was unable to repeat the lineup of the first leg of the semifinals due to Marcos Rocha not recovering in time. Tchê Tchê was selected as his replacement. Game underway, Palmeiras exercised control for the first 10 minutes, but no clear opportunity to score materialised.

Palmeirenses were not disheartened by the rain (photo credits: Augusto Oazi)

Santos, playing with four forwards, were seeking space behind Palmeiras defensive line through long balls. In the 13th minute, payoff: Daniel Guedes advanced behind Victor Luiz and crossed the ball to Sasha, clean to head it into Jailson’s goal.

Santos’ lead did not last much: three minutes later, Bruno Henrique levelled the score for Palmeiras through a powerful shot fired low from outside the box, finding Vanderlei’s left corner.

After the two goals, the game cooled down, with Palmeiras trying to create opportunities passing the ball around and Santos counter-attacking through fast transitions. With Palmeiras once again in control of the game, the surprise: in the 39th minute, Rodrygo received the ball and tried to dribble Antonio Carlos. After some pinball action in the box, the ball finally deflected off Sasha to again present itself to Rodrygo, who just pushed it into the back of the net. Santos 2-1.

Palmeiras had two opportunities on free kicks to level the score before the end of the first half, but both shots, from Bruno Henrique and Victor Luiz, were saved by Vanderlei. In the last minute, Antonio Carlos almost converted after a corner kick, but that was it.

Back after the interval, the teams unaltered. Palmeiras had a good opportunity in the 2nd minute, Tchê Tchê crossed the ball, but Willian headed it wide. Our player did not seem to be in the best of shapes and could not find the way to actually threaten Vanderlei, Santos positioned deep in defence, awaiting another fluky opportunity to score the third. Coach Machado tried to fix the problem sending Guerra to replace Lucas Lima, but to no effect.

Santos had a good opportunity in the 28th minute after a corner kick, but Tchê Tchê put away the ball that would find Gabriel clear to score. Palmeiras, now with Moisés and Deyverson on the pitch, having replaced Bruno Henrique and Willian respectively, were still not finding ways to trespass Santos defensive line. The best opportunity was Keno’s, a left-footed shot off target.

In the 42nd minute, Keno was to receive the ball clear inside the box to score, but Dodo put it away at the last moment. Santos had their golden opportunity on injury time when Jean Mota took a first-time shot that would have been a beautiful goal had it not gone slightly above target.

With 2-1 on the scorecard at full time, a penalty shootout. With technique and nerves under control, Palmeiras masterfully converted all five through Dudu, Tchê Tchê, Victor Luiz, Moisés and Guerra. Our Black Panther between the posts, Jailson, saved Santos’ third penalty to classify Palmeiras to the São Paulo state Championship finals.

Palmeiras now await for the opponent to be defined. If Corinthians go through, we will have a final not seen since 1999. If São Paulo come out victorious, even longer the interval: 1992. In any case, not since 2003 has a final been played between two teams from the city of São Paulo. Come what may, Palmeiras are ready to face and win this final; it has been nine years since the last title, in 2008.

Scoppia che la vittoria è nostra!

– – – ooo – – –  
by Augusto Anteghini Oazi

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