Nothing better than a game against São Paulo at the Allianz Parque to bring some peace back to Palmeiras and palmeirenses. As in the previous six games against the eternal enemy at the stadium, the victory was Palmeiras’.
Roger lined-up a different starting-eleven yesterday night. Mayke replaced suspended Marcos Rocha, Moisés replaced Lucas Lima and Felipe Melo returned from injury. Willian remained as the centre-forward, with Dudu and Keno completing the attacking trio.
The early moments of the first half showed that Roger’s choices made Palmeiras’ midfield slower. As in the game against Cruzeiro last Wednesday, the action was intense on the midfield, but rarely progressed from the mid segment, making it not very interesting to watch.
Unfortunately, the lack of focus that has been haunting our defenders in the last few games struck again: after a throw-in in the 29th minute, Edu Dracena tried to head the ball home to Jailson, instead serving it up to a São Paulo forward who missed the shot, but confused our keeper enough for the ball to pass between his legs. Not much more happened in the first half, and the frustration was visible on our player’s faces.
In the second half, everything changed. Behind in the score, and probably having heard a few well-chosen words in the locker room, Palmeiras emerged much more intense and, already as of the first minute, suffocating São Paulo. The pressure payed off already in the 9th minute, when Sidão deflected Keno’s crossed ball, only to see it end up at Willian’s feet, the experienced forward slotting it home. There was pressure on the linesman to flag for offside, but Dudu never touched the ball and even if he had, he was onside.
Immediately after the goal, Keno asked for a substitution and Hyoran came on, improving Palmeiras’ game even further. Two consecutive blows left our enemy on the floor.
In the 21st minute, Hyoran clashed with Militão over the ball, unpredictable looping into the box where Willian took full advantage through a well-timed volley to put Palmeiras in the lead. Three minutes later, Moisés initiated a counter-attack, skilfully finding Hyoran, who sprinted towards the goal before crossing it perfectly, Dudu diving peixinho-style to head it into the net. The celebration was intense, angry, passionate, as the relation between Dudu and the supporters has always been.
To guarantee the victory, Roger Machado replaced an exhausted Moisés with Thiago Santos. São Paulo did not create any clear opportunities to threaten Jailson again. After the own goal, Edu Dracena made a perfect second half and broke into tears at the end of the game. All players felt the pressure. A great result against a major rival was the perfect ingredient to connect team and supporters, and the atmosphere at the Allianz Parque was incredible, despite the booing at the end of the first half. The convincing victory proves that these players and this coach can indeed deliver. The key to future titles is consistency.
Palmeiras now have two consecutive away games for the Brazilian championship, the first one upcoming Wednesday against a very difficult opponent: Grêmio, in Porto Alegre. Then, on the Sunday, Ceará await at the Castelão stadium, Fortaleza. Finally, to end the batch of 12 pre World Cup rounds in style, Palmeiras receive current leader Flamengo at the Allianz Parque. Good results in these three games and Roger will have recovered the supporters’ trust.
Scoppia che la vittoria è nostra!
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by Augusto Anteghini Oazi