The game in Lima would be the first “calm” in a long time, in the sense that Palmeiras were already classified to the tournament’s knockout phase and Alianza Lima in all honesty could not be expected to beat the so far best team of the tournament, especially as the Peruvians were already mathematically out of the next phase.
With these considerations in the equation, Roger Machado chose to spare many players. Antônio Carlos, Edu Dracena, Keno, Felipe Melo and Marcos Rocha did not travel to Peru. The starting-eleven had only two of the usual suspects: Jailson and Borja. The rest of the gang: Mayke, Luan, Thiago Martins, Victor Luis; Thiago Santos, Moisés, Tchê Tchê; Willian and Hyoran. A 4-4-2 formation not seen much under Roger Machado.
As of kick-off, Palmeiras’ players showed they were willing to seize the opportunity to show their services. In the 2nd minute, Tchê Tchê crossed the ball from the left wing, but Alianza’s keeper saved Hyoran header. Three minutes later, Moisés had a good opportunity, but the defender intercepted the ball in the last moment. In the 8th minute, Willian fired away to a nice save from Campos.
Palmeiras pressure was intense and Alianza almost never left their defensive half of the pitch. In the 19th minute, the green and white efforts paid off: a long pass reached Borja, who exercised good control before passing the ball to Moisés, who beautifully delivered it to Willian to score the opener.
The second goal came naturally, as Palmeiras kept the pressure up: in the 31th minute, Moisés left Hyoran face-to-face with the goalkeeper after a beautiful backheel pass, the youngster embracing the opportunity to fire away a rocket, leaving the keeper hapless.
Palmeiras could have increased their lead even further in the first half. In the 36th minute, Hyoran hit the crossbar after a beautiful sequence of passes. One minute later, Campos saved a shot from Tchê Tchê. In the 43th minute, Campos saved Alianza again, this time after a shot from Borja. Alianza had only two opportunities during the first half, but both of them were long-range shots that Jailson easily saved.
In the second half, Palmeiras turned down the rhythm a notch, but kept a certain intensity. Some good opportunities were missed before the third goal, in the 21st minute: Willian passed the ball to Mayke and the fullback found Borja free inside the box, the Colombian just pushing the ball to the back of the net to increase Palmeiras’ lead.
The game was defined and Alianza crushed, but the referee dreamt up a penalty to the host team in the 26th minute. Jailson went left and Cuadrado picked the right corner to score Alianza’s consolation goal.
Borja had a nice opportunity to score his second goal in the 31st minute after a great pass from Willian, but his shot was blocked by the keeper. In the 41st minute, Moisés shot off-target and in the 44th minute, Hyoran received the ball from Willian and almost scored Palmeiras’ fourth, but the scorecard remained 3-1 until the final whistle. A great performance by the lads, who surprised us all with their tactical and technical maturity, hot off the bench. Promising!
The victory further confirms Palmeiras’ isolation at the top of the group, with 13 points. Palmeiras’ last game in the group stage of the Libertadores Cup takes place on the 16th, against Junior Barranquilla at the Allianz Parque. A victory guarantees best campaign overall and that Palmeiras will always have the second leg home advantage in the knockout phase.
Palmeiras now turn their attention back to the Brazilian championship, where Atlético Paranaense await, on Sunday, in Curitiba, for the fourth round of the competition. This game will be the second out of four consecutive away games: Palmeiras again have a difficult sequence. Mind you there are only twelve Brasileirão rounds before the month-long pause during the World Cup.
Scoppia che la vittoria è nostra!
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by Augusto Anteghini Oazi