The debut performance of Palmeiras in the Brasileirão 2018 was below expectations, albeit the team was one of the few that did not lose playing away. The 1-1 scorecard took Palmeiras to their 9th consecutive year without losing in the opening round of the Brazilian Championship.
Borja had to be spared for this game due to a knee inflammation and Roger Machado chose Willian to replace him. This was the only difference compared to the starting-eleven against Boca last Wednesday.
As the game kicked off, the first opportunity was Botafogo’s: Léo Valencia crossed the ball, Rodrigo Lindoso’s header missing the target. Two minutes later, Palmeiras responded: Keno crossed the ball and Willian headed it firmly, Gatito Fernandez showing great skill between the posts to save the carioca team.
In the 13th minute, Diogo Barbosa’s ball crossed the whole area with no one reaching it. Palmeiras exercised superior ball possession, but were again in difficulties to create clear goal opportunities. Botafogo tried twice with long-range shots: the first from Brenner just wide the target and the second from Léo Valencia, provoking a nice save from Jailson. That was all we got in the first half.
In halftime, Roger Machado made his first substitution: Guerra came on to replace an unassertive Lucas Lima. Already in the 8th minute, the alteration paid off: Keno passed the ball to Dudu, our captain fought for possession with the defender and then, with a beautiful pass, left Guerra face-to-face with the goalkeeper, the Venezuelan calmly concluding to score the opener.
In the 11th minute, Willian almost increased Palmeiras’ lead, but Gatito Fernandez saved his shot. Willian tried again in the 16th minute, again ending up in the keeper’s hands. The game seemed to be in control… But Palmeiras like to play tricks on their supporters.
In the 32th minute, a preview of what was about to come: a crossed ball into Palmeiras’ box and Jailson failed to put it away. The ball remained with Kieza, who missed the shot on a first attempt and concluded with little power on a second, allowing for Jailson’s intervention. Four minutes later, the announced tragedy: another crossed ball, this time deflected by Antônio Carlos, remained inside Palmeiras’ box. Jailson did not charge to put the ball away, Felipe Melo did not disputed it with Igor Rabello and Thiago Martins turned his back when the Botafogo player took the shot (and missed the ball) on a first attempt. All the individual errors allowed Igor Rabello to unchallenged have a second go, slamming the ball firmly behind Jailson to level the scorecard with less than ten minutes left of the game.
With both teams chasing victory, the game got very intense in its final minutes. Léo Valencia tried a long-range shot. On stoppage time, Guerra had one off-target and another, where he kicked thin air. And that was that.
The result was not bad for Palmeiras, coming from a difficult sequence playing twice a week, with no time to rest and practice. As the next game is only on Sunday – in São Paulo, against Internacional of Porto Alegre – Roger Machado can look forward to a few well-spent days of practice, addressing some of the visible problems of the last few games, in particular the taking but not holding on to a lead.
Scoppia che la vittoria è nostra!
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by Augusto Anteghini Oazi