The dream continues. One more victory. One more game without conceding. One more record – not since 1965 have Palmeiras seen eight consecutive clean sheets. Beating the cariocas 2-0, Palmeiras yesterday equalised a more than 50 year old feat.
Playing at home, Felipão lined-up Palmeiras in full strength, the starting-eleven composed of Weverton; Mayke, Antônio Carlos, Edu Dracena and Diogo Barbosa; Felipe Melo, Bruno Henrique and Moisés; Dudu, Willian and Borja.
As of kick-off, Botafogo showed that their main goal was to waste time. Every throw-in, keeper kick, free kick and what have you was used to waste time. Probably, our opponent’s coach knew his side was incredibly inferior and that defeat could only be avoided if the game was not to be played at all.
Botafogo were partially successful; Palmeiras did create a number of opportunities but stopped short of scoring. Nevertheless, and the feeling was that the opener would come if our players just pushed a little harder. We went goalless into halftime.
Having understood the objectives of Botafogo, Felipão made a decisive substitution before the second half initiated: defensive midfielder Bruno Henrique came off and attacking midfielder Lucas Lima came on. With the swap, Felipão was saying “we’re going for the victory whatever the cost”.
The substitution left our defense shaky in the early minutes, but Weverton fenced off Botafogo’s two opportunities. After that, Palmeiras promptly retook control of the game, initiating the pressure that culminated in the opener in the 78th minute. Dudu crossed the ball to Lucas Lima and his left-footed volley was a thing of beauty. Lima’s brace came nine minutes later, when he curved a free kick to surprise the late-arriving keeper.
Between the two goals, Palmeiras stirred the frustration of supporters as Dudu wasted a penalty, Palmeiras’ fifth in a row. With two knockout competitions underway, where penalty shootouts are a real possibility, Felipão has work to do.
The fresh three points against Botafogo propelled Palmeiras to fifth position in the tables, with 36 points, reducing the distance to leader São Paulo to six points. Next Sunday, at the Beira Rio in Porto Alegre, runners-up Internacional receive our Verdão. A truly hard nut to crack, but with Luis Felipe Scolari in our trenches, everything is possible.
Scoppia che la vittoria è nostra!
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by Augusto Anteghini Oazi