Palmeiras played Sport at the Ilha do Retiro already knowing that São Paulo and Inter had tied their games. Thus, a victory would propel the team to second position, just one point behind the leader. And that was how it happened. It may not have been Palmeiras’ best performance, but it was enough.
Felipão opted for the team we have gotten used to in the Brazilian Championship: Jailson; Mayke, Luan, Gustavo Gómez and Victor Luis; Felipe Melo, Thiago Santos and Jean (Willian); Lucas Lima (Guerra), Hyoran (Dudu) and Deyverson.
Palmeiras took advantage of the terrible shape that Sport have been showing as of late and created an opportunity already in the 5th minute through Deyverson, but Magrão saved the beautiful shot. The initial impulse lasted just a short while: soon, the fight for possession never left the midfield and neither team created opportunities.
The situation got more difficult for Palmeiras after Lucas Lima had to be substituted by Guerra in the 28th minute. Despite all his technical quality, the Venezuelan midfielder, almost three months away from the pitches recovering from an injury, was clearly out of rhythm.
Felipão’s locker room talk must have been something: Palmeiras came back to the second half lit, immediately creating several opportunities and before the tenth minute, Guerra had lost a face-to-face opportunity, Deyverson had dribbled Magrão and missed an open goal and Hyoran saw a shot blocked by a defender.
Again, the action levelled out, but at least the game was entertaining, not the stalemate of the first half. Felipão swapped Hyoran for Dudu, trying to spice things up, but it was Sport who enjoyed two good opportunities to open the score, the first one a tremendous long-range shot brilliantly saved by Jailson.
Sport’s aggressiveness triggered the moustaches: Felipão replaced Jean with Willian just as Dudu was preparing to take a corner. Gómez headed it and Magrão performed a miracle (although the ball most likely did cross the line in its entirety) and on his first touch on the ball, Willian drove it home. Palmeiras’ 100th goal of the season.
As in other games, after opening the score, Palmeiras cooled the rhythm down, waiting for the final whistle. Everything under control, except for Deyverson, putting on another pathetic display as he rolled off the pitch in pain after a challenge, then made sure to roll back on again, looking to waste additional time. Felipão verbally yanked his ear and the forward jumped to his feet faster than you can say “clown”.
Final whistle and commemorations on the pitch. It was a tough game, hard fought, very physical, and once more, Palmeiras came out victorious.
With 12 rounds to go in the Brasileirão, the fresh three points leave Palmeiras with 50, just one behind leader São Paulo. Two rounds from now, the two will be face-to-face in a clash that potentially could define the outcome of the championship.
Now, Palmeiras turn the attention to the Brazil Cup, where Cruzeiro await at the Mineirão. In the first leg, 1-0 for the visitors. As there is no away goal rule in the Brazil Cup, any Palmeiras victory by a one-goal difference takes the decision to penalties. Cruzeiro are a very hard nut to crack and absolutely every detail will count. Prepare your hearts and minds, this should be epic.
Scoppia che la vittoria è nostra!
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by Augusto Anteghini Oazi