After suffering elimination in the Libertadores Cup, there were genuine concern as to how Palmeiras would react. Performing in front of almost 39.000 supporters at the Allianz Parque, the reply was as good as anyone could hope for: victory against Santos – on a roll with four wins in the last five games – and three points that substantially increase our chances of conquering our tenth Brazilian Championship title.
Scolari once more put out a rather alternative starting eleven, picking players he felt were better rested. Weverton; Jean (Guerra), Antônio Carlos, Edu Dracena and Victor Luis; Thiago Santos, Bruno Henrique, Gustavo Scarpa and Lucas Lima (Felipe Melo); Dudu and Borja (Deyverson).
Santos enjoyed superior ball possession during the initial minutes, but Palmeiras soon took control of the game. In the 6th minute, Vanderlei saved a face-to-face shot from Lucas Lima.
Eight minutes later, Vanderlei could not avoid the opener. Weverton found Jean free on the right wing, the fullback passed the ball to Borja, who fired away; Vanderlei made a partial save, Dudu seizing the rebound to make it 1-0.
Santos offered no threats to Weverton’s goal and Palmeiras increased the lead with five minutes remaining of the first half: Dudu took a corner and Edu Dracena headed the ball to the back of the net. This was the defender’s first goal for Palmeiras after playing more than a hundred games. Lovely timing!
In halftime, Cuca made two substitutions that changed the game, promoting Bryan Ruiz and Copete. Already in the 2nd minute, Weverton saved a great shot from Carlos Sánchez.
Palmeiras soon answered, with Dudu and Scarpa almost scoring the third in the 5th and in the 7th minute, respectively.
After a marathon of decisive games, the exhaustion of Palmeiras’ players began to appear and Santos found some spaces to create opportunities. The referee also did his best to adopt stricter criteria against our side in one-on-one situations.
In the 9th minute, after precisely such an aforementioned situation, Dudu suffering the charge and losing the ball midfield, Dracena failed to clear a crossed ball and Copete decreased Palmeiras’ lead. Ten minutes later, Dracena was dislocated inside the box, allowing Dodô free passage to score the equaliser.
Felipão felt the negative momentum and fixed it by swapping Lucas Lima for Felipe Melo. In addition, he advanced Jean to the right wing and moved Thiago Santos to the fullback position.
In the 25th minute, with a bit of luck, Palmeiras found the winner. Victor Luis took a free kick which deflected slightly off a Santos defender; still seemed like a fairly easy save but Vanderlei let it pass.
In the 34th minute, Diego Pituca was awarded a red card and with Santos one-man short, Palmeiras managed the situation until the final whistle.
With six rounds to go, Palmeiras stand at 66 points. As Flamengo only drew against São Paulo, the distance to the former runners-up increased to six points. A disgracefully awarded penalty in the dying minute of the game allowed Internacional to beat Atlético Paranaense to take up second place in the tables, five point behind the leader.
Palmeiras now have a full week to rest and train ahead of Sunday’s game against Atlético Mineiro, in Belo Horizonte. Atlético are normally a hard nut to crack, but the mineiros are not enjoying the best of moments, sporting four defeats and a draw in the last five. Felipão will not have Dudu at his disposal, the Little Giant suspended due to receiving his third yellow against Santos. Palmeiras have the best away performance of the season and aim to increase the 17 games undefeated streak in the Brasileirão.
Scoppia che la vittoria è nostra!
– – – ooo – – –
by Augusto Anteghini Oazi