The most optimistic palmeirense would not expect a victory as convincing as we had yesterday. Palmeiras performed brilliantly to build a huge advantage and are close to classify to the quarterfinals. In the last ten years, every team that has played the first leg away and has built an advantage of two goals has classified to the next phase.
Felipão lined-up Palmeiras with three defensive midfielders – Bruno Henrique, Felipe Melo and Moisés – but organized them differently from what we have seen in previous games, with Moisés positioned to press Cerro’s defensive line, being Palmeiras’ most advanced player on the pitch, except for Borja.
As of kick-off, Cerro exercised some pressure, induced by the atmosphere at the Nueva Olla Stadium. Palmeiras managed this fence off the initial blitz well, not allowing the home team any clear scoring opportunity. The ball possession was levelled from the 10th minute on, but action concentrated to the midfield and neither goalkeeper had much to do for the remainder of the first half.
Taking into consideration Palmeiras’ attitude in the first half, it looked like Scolari and his men considered a draw a satisfying result. However, already in the opening minute of the second half, a crossed ball caused some confusion among the Cerro defenders and offered itself to Borja, who was unforgiving. The already great night got even better when Moisés left Borja face-to-face with the goalkeeper in the 26th minute, the Colombian again making no mistake, slotting home for the second time.
Felipão’s strategy worked perfectly against Cerro. Firstly, he organized the defensive line to secure Weverton’s goal – to the effect of Palmeiras’s keeper not having to perform a single difficult save last night. Secondly, knowing that Cerro would come for the victory, he set our players up counter-attack – the second goal was scored through this strategy. Thirdly, the players seemed focused – Borja received the ball twice and put both away; overall, our players made few mistakes and took few risks. Flashbacks to the Palmeiras of 2012, away against Grêmio in the first leg semifinal of that year’s Brazil Cup.
Borja is now the runner-up top scorer in this year’s edition, with 8 goals in seven games, only one behind Morelo, of Santa Fé (already eliminated). The victory against Cerro also means that Palmeiras is the Brazilian team with the most away victories (32) in the history of the Libertadores Cup.
The return game against Cerro takes place in three weeks’ time. Before that, Palmeiras play Bahia in the second leg of the quarterfinals of the Brazil Cup, and no less than four games for the Brazilian Championship. On the Sunday, as rather special game against Vasco, as it will mark Felipão’s debut at the Allianz Parque.
Scoppia che la vittoria è nostra!
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by Augusto Anteghini Oazi