Unfortunately, this match review is less about football and more about external interference that decided the final of Brazil’s most prestigious state championship.
Backed by 41.227 supporters (new Allianz Parque attendance record), Palmeiras allowed Corinthians a start they wouldn’t even dream of: a goal to equalize the aggregated scorecard already in the first minute. Matheus Vital slipped through Marcos Rocha and Antônio Carlos to pass the ball behind to Rodriguinho; the shot would have been easily saved by Jailson had it not deflected off Victor Luiz.
After the early goal, the game evolved as expected, Palmeiras exercising superior ball possession but at large being blocked by Corinthians’ defensive line. The team in black and white basically parked the bus, waiting for that opportunity to counter-attack.
Palmeiras did not create that many opportunities during the game, but in the 26th minute of the second half, Dudu received a heavy challenge from Ralf inside the box and went down, well-positioned referee Marcelo Aparecido de Souza without hesitation awarding the penalty. Dudu took the ball and placed it on the 9-meter mark, but as the referee continued aggressively surrounded by Corinthians players, play did not resume. This went on for almost two minutes, de Souza fencing off Corinthians players and handing out a yellow card. Enough time for the fifth referee, who had been positioned at the other side of the pitch completely, jog over to the fourth referee, say something, and the fourth referee approach de Souza with what could only have been fresh info based on camera reviews: Ralf might have touched the ball before clipping Dudu, there might be room for interpretation, there might not have been a penalty. The referee looked ready to change his mind, now with all Palmeiras players ventilating their frustration. In vain, we learnt. The confusion lasted for a total of eight minutes, no penalty awarded, the external influence crucially changing the game’s outcome. Need I mention de Souza’s refereeing career was hanging on a thread there?
In the remaining 20 or so minutes, Palmeiras tried their best, coming close with a free kick just wide from Marcos Rocha and a header from Thiago Santos. Also Corinthians had an opportunity with Sidcley, driving the ball not far from Jailson’s left post.
In the penalty shootout that followed, our players were clearly frustrated, and more nervous than Corinthians’. Cássio saved the shots from Dudu and Lucas Lima, our first and third kickers respectively. Victor Luiz, Marcos Rocha and Moisés scored for Palmeiras. Corinthians missed only one penalty, the fourth, Fagner sending the ball to the stands. Below, a first video with the highlights, and a second, with the eight minutes culminating in the external interference.
After the game, Palmeiras president Maurício Galiotte did not spare his criticism. “Shameful” was the word, repeated over and over again. Galiotte informed no Palmeiras representative would be present at today’s closing ceremony of the championship at the Paulista Football Federation.
As palmeirenses and lovers of football, yours respectfully hope, with all sincerity, that president Galiotte and Palmeiras transform words into action, sparing no effort to protect the club and the sport against biased and harmful practices that stain Brazilian football at an accelerated pace. What happened yesterday is the mirroring of Brazil, where impunity reigns and the powerful do as they please. Overwhelming as the task may seem, we believe we speak for an absolute majority of Palmeiras supporters when we say we are ready, come what might. There needs to be change.
Scoppia che la vittoria è nostra!