Palmeiras 2-0 Atlético Paranaense – closing in

credits: Cesar Greco/Ag. Palmeiras

Palmeiras secured yet another victory and now celebrate eight consecutive games without defeat in the Brazilian championship. Felipão completed his first month in charge of Palmeiras with seven victories, two draws and just one defeat. 13 goals scored, only two against. The man is on fire.

Being a midweek game, Felipão opted for the line-up that we have gotten used to in the knockouts tournaments: Prass; Mayke, Antônio Carlos, Edu Dracena and Victor Luis; Thiago Santos (Bruno Henrique), Felipe Melo and Moisés; Dudu (Jean), Willian and Borja (Deyverson). Prass replaced Weverton (slight discomfort in the knee) and Bruno Henrique was in condition to play only for 45 minutes.

The action in the first half was concentrated to the midfield. Both teams very well organized defensively, it soon became clear why Atlético-PR sport(ed) nine games of invincibility. Neither of the keepers performed a single difficult save.

After the break, things rapidly changed for the better, Felipão having swapped Thiago Santos – who did a good job defensively – for Bruno Henrique, also a defensive midfielder but with much better offensive capabilities. Palmeiras created two great opportunities in the first minutes, but neither Borja nor Willian concluded well. Not discouraged, the team kept the pressure up without taking too many risks defensively.

In the 25th minute, the opener, the result of a perfect counter-attack: Dudu passed the ball to Deyverson, who read Willian’s sprint and masterly delivered the pass, our forward with enough freedom to adjust the body and calmly place the ball on the keeper’s right side. A beautiful goal.

Minutes later, the roles were inverted, Willian delivering to Deyverson, but this time the Atlético keeper performed a magnificent save.

Although Atlético did not create a single clear opportunity to score, they started infiltrating through the sides, giving Victor Luis and Mayke a hard time. Felipão fixed the right side by sending Jean to replace Dudu, looking to guarantee the three points.

The final hit came in the last minute of injury time when everybody was more than happy with the odd goal victory: Willian received the ball from Felipe Melo and was face to face with the keeper when knocked down by the latter. A penalty that the referee could not ignore, despite his tendencies throughout the game. Moisés was the designated one to end the negative spell of five consecutive missed penalties, closing the scorecard 2-0.

There is no denying Palmeiras are truly in the title run. Combined with the other results yesterday – Atlético-MG 1×0 São Paulo and Internacional 2×0 Flamengo – Palmeiras, with 43 points, sit in third position, just three points behind the leader. Should Grêmio today beat Santos away by a margin of two goals, the gauchos would overtake Palmeiras on better goal difference.

The one negative aspect yesterday: ticket pricing needs a review. Palmeiras are unbeaten for eight consecutive games in the Brasileirão and in hot pursuit of the title, but we had a mere 24.601 supporters at the Allianz Parque: a good to excellent number when compared to the average of other teams, but terrible when considering the backdrop and that more than fifteen thousand seats were empty.

Derby on Sunday, 4 pm, at the Allianz Parque. Actually, THE DERBY. Opponents are Corinthians, who today announced former Santos coach Jair Ventura to replace Osmar Loss, given the boot the other day.

As Felipão once yelled in the locker room, overheard through an air vent, many years ago: “One must feel enraged with this f*cking Corinthians”.

Scoppia che la vittoria è nostra!

– – – ooo – – –
by Augusto Anteghini Oazi 

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