The tenth Brazilian Championship was already guaranteed. The opponent, Vitória, was already relegated. However, a victory would make Palmeiras’ performance on the second half of the championship the best campaign of any half since the Brazilian Championship is disputed by 20 teams.
Contrary to expectations, Felipão did not spare any player and the line-up was composed of Weverton; Mayke, Antônio Carlos, Edu Dracena and Victor Luis; Felipe Melo, Bruno Henrique and Lucas Lima (Guerra); Dudu, Scarpa (Moisés) and Borja (Deyverson).
Aiming for the MVP award, Dudu was once again on fire. The best opportunities were created through the feet of the Little Giant. And the pressure paid off in the last minute of the first half, when Dudu crossed the ball and Edu Dracena headed it to score the opener.
In the early minutes of the second half, Palmeiras increased the lead. Scarpa received from Dudu and fired away from outside the box, the ball deflecting off a Vitória defender before finding the back of the net.
Earlier, in the 9th minute, Deyverson, who had replaced Borja in halftime, was knocked down inside the box, but Heber Roberto Lopes preferred to ignore the penalty. Minutes later, in the 23rd minute, Antônio Carlos committed a foul outside the box, but this time the referee opted for awarding the penalty to Vitória. Yago converted it to decrease Palmeiras’ lead.
Two minutes later, Vitória equalised, throwing a bucket of ice over Palmeiras’ supporters. Luan received inside the box and fired away giving no chance to Weverton.
Both teams slowed down their pace with the score equalised, but Palmeiras being far superior, some opportunities were created. In the last minute, Bruno Henrique received the ball from Guerra firing a beautiful one-time shot to the joy of the 41.256 supporters at the Allianz Parque, an all-time attendance record. The victory was more than deserved, and especially for Felipão, who won all of his 11 games at the Allianz Parque for the Brazilian Championship.
Despite the sloppy start in the championship, being in the sixth position after the first 19 games, Palmeiras won the title due to an unquestionable campaign. Best home performance, best away performance, best attack, best defense and an unbeaten sequence of 23 games – still counting into the next year. Palmeiras finished with 80 points, well clear of the competition (Flamengo 72, Internacional 69, Grêmio 66).
2018 has indeed been a superb year for Palmeiras. Runners-up of the São Paulo state Championship (and we remember how that was orchestrated), semifinals of the Brazil Cup, semifinals of the Libertadores Cup and, to finish in style, the Brazilian League title.
Preparations for next year are well underway. There are reasons to believe 2019 could be as good or even better than this year. Fingers crossed, Palmeiras supporters around the globe!
Scoppia che la vittoria è nostra!
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by Augusto Anteghini Oazi