Knowing the biggest difficulty against Independiente del Valle would be the effects of the high altitude (2.800 meters), coach Abel, unfamiliar with the conditions of playing in said scenario, came up with a different strategy for the game, later revealed by him as a decision originating from his players.
The only change to the starting eleven was Felipe Melo replacing Danilo, but the attitude on the pitch suffered considerable change if compared to previous games in the tournament. Palmeiras patiently waited for Independiente del Valle attacks, wave after wave, and resisted all of them, looking for that single opportunity to inflict a bit of damage.
After a handful of offsides, in the 42nd minute Patrick de Paula found Luiz Adriano onside: the attacker broke free only to be knocked down by the Independiente keeper, the referee awarding the penalty. Raphael Veiga converted and, as it happened, scored the sole goal of the game. This was Veiga’s 11th penalty for Palmeiras and he has impressively converted every single one of them.
Weverton; Luan, Gustavo Gómez, Renan; Marcos Rocha, Felipe Melo (Scarpa), Patrick de Paula (Danilo), Raphael Veiga (Mayke) and Victor Luis; Rony and Luiz Adriano (Danilo Barbosa).
Patrick de Paula and Felipe Melo received yellow cards.
Four victories in four Libertadores Cup matches. Spot in the knockout phase guaranteed. 12 consecutive Libertadores away games without defeat (equaling River Plates’ record 2018-2019 run, but with an important difference: the Argentine side computed 4 victories and 8 draws; Palmeiras 9 victories and 3 draws). First home defeat suffered by Independiente del Valle in the club’s Libertadores Cup history: the interrupted streak stood at 24 games throughout six Libertadores editions. Palmeiras made nothing short of history yesterday in Ecuador.
The strategy worked like a charm against Independiente Del Valle, but must be perfected if to be used against more qualified teams. The opponent was allowed too close to Weverton’s goal and the slightest mistake could put everything at risk.
The victory justifies anything, but it’s worth mentioning the affair wasn’t delightful to watch. Palmeiras gave up any aspiration of conducting the game, clocking in at 28.1% of ball possession, the lowest number in any Palmeiras victory in the tournament since 2013.
Palmeiras play the fifth round of the 2021 Copa Libertadores group stage next Tuesday, against Defensa y Justicia at the Allianz Parque. Before that, there are one or two appointments in the São Paulo state Championship: Red Bull Bragantino in the quarterfinal on Friday and, should Palmeiras go through, opponent tbc in the semifinal on Sunday. The remaining matches in the Libertadores Cup are important to secure the best overall campaign of the group stage, but the team has already achieved the most important goal: secure a spot in the knockout stage.
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.