Palmeiras 2-3 Sport – sucker punched

Palmeiras ended their stretch of four consecutive home games gruellingly disappointing their supporters: a defeat to Sport was no way expected. In addition, the combo of a Saturday night game, a pricey ticket and fuel shortage due to a general, nation-wide strike resulted in less than 30 thousand supporters at the Allianz Parque – below average but, considering all the above, a fairly decent turn-up.

CBF and FIFA worked out their issue regarding players on the WC standby list, thus making Dudu available against Sport. Willian, not fully recovered from last Wednesday, was spared. With Deyverson not being held in high regards by anyone right now, our coach opted for a line-up with no centre-forward, the offensive components being Lucas Lima, Guerra, Dudu and Keno.
As of kick-off, Palmeiras had more ball possession, creating good opportunities and finding the opener in the 32th minute. Dudu passed the ball to Diogo Barbosa, who found Keno inside the box to score. Sport was unable to effective threaten Jailson’s goal during the first 45 minutes.

In the second half, everything changed. After Palmeiras blew a clear opportunity with Dudu, Sport found the equaliser already in the 4th minute, the result of a corner. With the scorecard levelled, Palmeiras again exercised superior ball possession, but now without capitalising on it.

With Hyoran and Papagaio coming on for Guerra and Lucas Lima, Palmeiras improved their game further, only to see Sport take the lead. In the 27th minute, Keno and Bruno Henrique failed to strip Anselmo of the ball, who charged straight on, coming face to face with Jailson to slot it home.

Behind on the scorecard, Palmeiras launched an offensive and found the equaliser only minutes later through Hyoran, a beautiful left-footed curving shot from outside the box. The attitude from both sides indicated Palmeiras might very well turn the game around, but five minutes later, Sport scored their third, again after a corner. Sport had four, perhaps five opportunities during the whole game and converted three, primarily due to Palmeiras’ sloppy defending.

Still with some minutes on the clock, Palmeiras again went all attack and created two clear opportunities to level the scorecard: Dudu bizarrely blew the first one in the 47th minute, and in the very last seconds of injury time, Dudu suffered a penalty. Keno stepped up to the mark but executed poorly, Sport keeper Magrão picking the right corner to make a relatively easy save. Definitely not Palmeiras’ night.

While Palmeiras’ away record is extremely impressive, home games are becoming a concern. In previous games at home, the problem has generally been a lack of scoring opportunities. Yesterday was different, with opportunities a plenty wasted. Palmeiras are feeling the absence of top scorer Borja.

Another problem yesterday was the lack of concentration. Sport’s three goals could and most likely would have been avoided if our players had been more watchful, reacting fractions of a second faster.

There are five more rounds in the Brasileirão before the month-long break for the World Cup. Upcoming Wednesday, hard nut Cruzeiro, at the Mineirão stadium, Belo Horizonte. Will Palmeiras put out the convincing away routine and return to São Paulo with three valuable points, making up for the loss against Sport? Roger Machado will not have Diogo Barbosa at his disposal, as the left-back received his third yellow card yesterday; Victor Luis is the natural and competent replacement. Apart from Diogo, all other pieces in the squad should be available to Machado.

Scoppia che la vittoria è nostra!

– – – ooo – – – 
by Augusto Anteghini Oazi

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