Midway into a sequence of four consecutive home games, Palmeiras are again in peace with their supporters. The two consecutive victories at the Allianz Parque scoring three goals in each of the games showed that the work carries on and is being well executed.
Against Bahia, Roger could not count on Dudu, suspended due to his third booking against Corinthians, sending Willian in his place. The rest of the starting-eleven was composed of the usual suspects.
The game was all set in the first half. Already in the 2nd minute, Keno on the right found Borja, the Colombian taking full advantage of his speed and force to drive the ball deep before cutting it back to Willian, who scored the opener. The second goal came in the 32nd minute: Marcos Rocha took a short corner to Lucas Lima, who returned the ball to the fullback, returning to the deep end to find Antônio Carlos inside the box, pushing the ball into the back of the net.
The third goal was rather interesting, not so much for the goal itself, but for the celebration. Lucas Lima found Borja with a cutting-trough vertical, our striker slotting it home by the right bottom corner of the keeper. During his celebration, Borja threw his jersey to a supporter, who held on to it for a few short moments before returning it with a smile: after all, one cannot play without a proper kit. Relieving himself of the jersey, Borja induced the referee to award him his third yellow and a suspension in next Saturday’s game against Sport; strategic, as he today temporarily left Palmeiras to join the Colombian national team in their 2018 World Cup preparations.
Not everything was about Palmeiras in the first half: Bahia had indeed some good opportunities too, but a ball off the crossbar was as close as they got, in addition to a sharp shot from Zé Rafael which took some effort from Jailson.
In the second half, Palmeiras, at ease, controlled the action, satisfied with the result, while Bahia showed little ambition of leveling the scorecard. Nevertheless, the Verdão created a number of opportunities to increase the lead, Willian blowing the best of them in the 29th minute, amazingly hitting the crossbar with the open goal in front of him. The scorecard remained unaltered until the final whistle.
When Miguel Borja was taken off the pitch, replaced by Hyoran, he was acclaimed by the whole stadium. The same player who was booed by the ultras last Wednesday after scoring a hat-trick is now, three days later, the loved one. Although some say “great, now that Borja’s finally bringing it, let’s sell him fast”. The bipolarity of Palmeiras supporters merits serious studies.
The convincing victory against Bahia assures that Palmeiras remain at the top of the table, just two points behind leader Atlético Mineiro. As Guardiola said once, “A team loses the league in the first eight games, and wins it in the last eight”. Last year, this prediction was sadly true: by the end of the eight round, Palmeiras accumulated a meager 10 points, placed 13th, 10 points behind Corinthians.
The players now turn their attention to the Brazil Cup. The third straight game at the Allianz Parque takes place on Wednesday the 23rd, against América Mineiro, determining which side advances to the quarterfinals. Palmeiras have a 2-1 advantage from the first leg. It will be interesting to see what alternative coach Machado comes up with now that our top scorer is absent.
Scoppia che la vittoria è nostra!
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by Augusto Anteghini Oazi