What a night at the Allianz Parque! A more than convincing victory to shut up the critics of Felipão’s work at Palmeiras, if there by chance are anyone left, considering the team is unbeaten for 21 consecutive rounds.
Having every man but Scarpa at his disposal, Felipão opted for a line-up composed of Weverton; Mayke, Luan, Gustavo Gómez and Victor Luis; Thiago Santos (Moisés), Bruno Henrique and Lucas Lima; Willian, Dudu (Felipe Melo) and Borja (Deyverson). Strongest possible starting-eleven.
Stepping on the pitch, our men in green and white new Internacional had lost at home to Atlético Mineiro, thus saying goodbye to the Brasileirão title. With only Palmeiras and Flamengo remaining in the race, should Palmeiras win and Flamengo only draw, the championship would be won in front of 39.000 supporters present at the Allianz Parque.
During two thirds of the first half – the beginning and the end – Palmeiras completely dominated América, creating opportunities a plenty. Borja missed an open-goal in the 43rd minute. Palmeiras concluded 12 times in the first half, 8 shots on target. América, not a single shot fired.
In the second half, with Deyverson replacing Borja, everything changed. Already in the first minute, the recently promoted centre-forward scored, but the referee correctly flagged it off for offside.
Palmeiras kept the pressure up and in the 13th minute, it paid off. Lucas Lima crossed the ball, América defender Messias tried to clear it, the ball hitting Luan and sneaking in by the keepers right post.
Behind in the score, América went all attack as only victory was in their interest. This opened up spaces, allowing Palmeiras to take better advantage of their speed and technical superiority, launching dangerous counter-attacks.
With the red carpet extended, it did not take long for the show to begin. In the 30th minute, Willian scored the second after receiving a sweet pass from Dudu. Two minutes later, Dudu fired away an incredible shot from outside the box to score the third. Four minutes later, Mayke crossed the ball and Deyverson’s header put final numbers to the game. In a game where everyone performed well, special mentions to outstanding Gustavo Gómez, Mayke and Dudu.
Palmeiras followed the script but Grêmio did not, allowing Flamengo a 2-0 victory at the Maracanã. With that, the gap between first and second remains at five points, with two rounds to go. On Sunday, Palmeiras travel to Rio de Janeiro to face relegation-threatened Vasco da Gama. The cariocas tonight play São Paulo and will thus have one less day to recover ahead of Sunday’s decisive clash. Should Palmeiras beat Vasco, the title is in the bag. Should Flamengo fail to beat Cruzeiro in Belo Horizonte, independently of Palmeiras’ performance, idem.
Ladies and gentlemen, we are close, so very close. Enjoy the moment!
Scoppia che la vittoria è nostra!
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by Augusto Anteghini Oazi and Kristian Bengtson