Can lightning strike the same place twice? If it depends on Felipão, the answer is yes. Again in a Libertadores Cup game, Palmeiras put out an incredible performance to win 2-0 away and build a huge advantage for the 2nd leg.
Felipão lined-up Palmeiras without surprises: Weverton; Mayke, Antônio Carlos, Edu Dracena and Diogo Barbosa; Thiago Santos (Gustavo Gómez), Bruno Henrique and Moisés; Willian, Dudu (Lucas Lima) and Borja (Jean).
As of kick-off, Palmeiras had the control of the ball, and the opener came early. With three minutes on the clock, Borja recovered the ball near Colo-Colo’s goal and after a one-two with Dudu, he crossed it to Moisés, who received and served Bruno Henrique, who firmly took the shot to make it 1-0.
The early goal allowed Palmeiras to adopt a more cautious stance as Colo-Colo, pressuring for the equaliser, naturally would be leaving space for counter-attacks. The home team struggled to create opportunities and the only threat to Weverton’s clean sheet were the free kicks. With the defensive line repelling everything, Palmeiras even found some good opportunities to double the advantage.
None of the coaches made alterations in halftime. Colo-Colo started better, turning the pressure up a few notches, Valdivia being the inspired mastermind. In the 9th minute, a moment of tension as the referee consulted the VAR monitor due to a handball inside Palmeiras’ box, but the correct decision was taken.
Feeling the team had lost the midfield, Felipão substituted Borja with Jean, positioning Willian as the centre-forward. Many of us worried the swap would render Palmeiras too defensive, but on the contrary: retaking command of the midfield allowed for the counter-attack trap to be more efficiently set and it worked beautifully in the 32nd minute: Willian sprinted with the ball and fired away, the keeper deflecting it into his left post. As the ball came back, Dudu was unforgiving, slamming the rebound into the net.
With the two-goal advantage, Palmeiras skillfully cooled the game dawn. Shortly before the final whistle, a frustrated Colo-Colo went one man short as Damian Pérez receive the red card after a violent tackled on Mayke. The excellent referee – Andrés Cunha from Uruguay – made his decision after having consulted the VAR.
Palmeiras have won all their five Libertadores away games this season. Yesterday’s triumph makes Palmeiras the first Brazilian team to have won games in six different countries during the same Libertadores campaign: Brazil, Colombia, Argentina, Peru, Paraguay and Chile.
Attention is now turned to the Brazilian Championship, where Sport await in Recife for the 26th round. It is the penultimate in a streak of four away games and Felipão is likely to opt for an alternative team, as already next Wednesday Palmeiras face Cruzeiro for the second leg of the Brazil Cup, having to overcome the one-goal advantage built by the opponent at the Allianz Parque.
Scoppia che la vittoria è nostra!
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by Augusto Anteghini Oazi and Kristian Bengtson