Universitario is the team in the group you don’t lose points to without putting your spot in the knockout stage at risk. Thanks to a goal in the last minute, Palmeiras came back unharmed from Peru.
Many players were not available to coach Abel yesterday due to injury or suspension: Lucas Lima, Veron, Breno Lopes, Zé Rafael, Kuscevic, Gabriel Menino and Viña. Featuring a formation with three defenders (Luan, Gómez, Empereur), Palmeiras played very well in the first half and could have scored several goals, but went to halftime with a one-goal advantage thanks to Danilo. In the second half, Palmeiras needed seven minutes to increase the lead through a killer shot from Raphael Veiga, beautifully assisted by Luan and Rony.
Universitario didn’t really show any reaction, but immediately after Alan Empereur received his second yellow card in the 65th minute, the Peruvian team diminished Palmeiras lead. And three minutes later, everything came tumbling down as Enzo Gutiérrez leveled the score. Would Palmeiras, one man short, be able to hold on to the draw? Better still! Renan, who came on to recompose the defensive line, headed Scarpa’s corner kick into the back of the net in the last second of injury time to declare victory in Palmeiras’ 2021 Copa Libertadores debut.
Palmeiras are now the Brazilian side with the most Libertadores Cup victories in history: 109 (in 198 appearances), followed by Grêmio (108/207) and Cruzeiro (95/166).
Weverton; Luan, Gustavo Gómez, Alan Empereur; Marcos Rocha (Wesley), Danilo, Patrick de Paula (Scarpa), Raphael Veiga (Danilo Barbosa) and Victor Luís (Lucas Esteves); Rony and Luiz Adriano (Renan).
Patrick de Paula, Renan, Danilo Barbosa and Felipe Melo received yellow cards. Alan Empereur received two yellow cards and was sent to the showers early.
The formation tested by Abel Ferreira worked fine until Empereur’s sending off and the tilt the team experienced cannot be blamed on the coach. Raphael Veiga continues to show an astonishing level of performance under the Portuguese coach, and so does Rony. In addition, despite the penalty, Danilo was also very important for the victory. The whole team showed fighting spirit and it was satisfying to see how they fought back to secure the victory, even one man short.
This kind of excitement in the final minutes is lovely once in a while, but… Yesterday gave us yet another game apparently under control, before inattention almost had us biting the dust.
Our players must learn when to cool down the game, restrain the action. Right after Universitario’s first goal, the rhythm needed slowing down, giving Abel time to reorganize his pieces.
Palmeiras play the second round of the group stage in the 2021 Copa Libertadores next Tuesday, against Independiente del Valle, but before this there are appointments in the São Paulo state Championship against Guarani (tomorrow) and Mirassol (Sunday). No one really cares about the Paulistão games, with the exception of those always eager to stir up a storm.
Scoppia che la vittoria è nostra!
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by Augusto Anteghini Oazi & Kristian Bengtson
*Here at Anything Palmeiras, we love football. We love Palmeiras. We are always keen to see Palmeiras play, and keen to write about it for you. But we’re against the return of football in a country that still hasn’t controlled the coronavirus pandemic. We express our deepest sympathy to the families whose loved ones have been taken by the disease.