After 17 long years, 24 games played between the two at the Morumbi Stadium, Palmeiras inflicted a defeat upon São Paulo. Another taboo broken, just as against Chapecoense last month. The victory widened the gap between Palmeiras and the runners-up to three points, with ten rounds remaining of the competition. Palmeiras’ invincibility streak increased to thirteen.
Felipão’s line-up of choice was composed mainly of players who had not performed against Colo-Colo. Weverton; Marcos Rocha (Mayke), Luan, Gustavo Gómez and Victor Luis; Felipe Melo, Moisés and Lucas Lima (Bruno Henrique); Dudu, Hyoran (Willian) and Deyverson.
Initially, both teams struggled to create opportunities. The one exception came after a ridiculous mistake by São Paulo’s keeper Sidão: he had the ball in control, but at the moment of reposition, basically gave it away to Deyverson, who immediately fired in direction of the open goal. Sidão saved the shot with his hands, but well outside the box, the referee failing to award the foul and show Sidão the red card: the biggest of the many “errors” that would favour São Paulo throughout the game.
Although São Paulo enjoyed more ball possession, Palmeiras were very well organised. Our enemy had but one opportunity to open the scorecard: Reinaldo took a free kick, Anderson Martins deflected the ball and had Rodrigo Caio reached it, he would certainly have netted. From an offside position, that the referee did not notice, mind you.
In the 33rd minute, the game changer: Dudu took a corner and Gustavo Gómez headed the ball textbook-style – towards the ground – to open the score. And we all knew São Paulo would not bounce back.
In the 36th minute, after a São Paulo corner, Palmeiras initiated a counter-attack that could have ended in Dudu’s shot to the woodwork. Fortunately, it did not: Moisés caught the rebound and served Mayke, who crossed to Deyverson and an unforgiving header. Palmeiras 2-0 before halftime.
Back form the break, Diego Aguirre destroyed São Paulo’s midfield with his substitutions and our opponent was left with crossing balls as the only option. Palmeiras remained on top of their game and Willian, who substituted Hyoran halfway through the second half, almost scored the third in the 34th minute, Sidão saving the shot.
In the final minutes, São Paulo had two shots at goal, but Weverton saved them without difficulties. A solid victory if you ever saw one.
More than the victory itself, what must be highlighted was Palmeiras’ dominion. There was not a single minute in the game when the victory was threatened and we are not talking about a game against a team in the relegation zone: São Paulo were heading the Brazilian Championship two weeks ago and Palmeiras thrashed them.
Felipão will now enjoy a week of training and rest ahead of next weekend’s round, which features two very important games for the outcome of the championship: Palmeiras (1st with 56 points) receives Grêmio (5th with 51 points) at the Pacaembu, while Internacional (2nd with 53 points) receives São Paulo (4th with 52 points) at the Beira-Rio. Also the carioca derby is worth keeping an eye on: Flamengo, in 3rd with 52 points, welcome Fluminense at the Maracanã.
Scoppia che la vittoria è nostra!
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by Augusto Anteghini Oazi and Kristian Bengtson