Abel finally had the return of the last player serving the National Teams and promptly put him back between the goalposts. Another change was Kuscevic in the defensive line, sided by Gustavo Gómez, and completing a multicultural defensive line: a Brazilian, a Chilean, a Paraguayan and an Uruguayan.
Palmeiras didn’t play well. It was difficult to find a sequence of more than a few correct passes from our side and Universidad Católica bit by bit took control of the game, although not putting on much of a show either. In any case, when needed, Weverton was there to show why he is so often called up to the National Team.
The only chance Palmeiras had came in the 42nd minute. A ball crossed by Deyverson hit the hand of Católica’s defender and VAR summoned the referee who award the penalty. Raphael Veiga took the shot and converted, as in ALL of the previous 11 penalties he has taken for Palmeiras. Impressive track record; too bad he’s the squad’s lonely shining star in this requisite.
Ahead in the scorecard and with Universidad Católica coming for the equalizer in the second half, the Big Green saw more chances to counter attack, but seize none of them. Besides the penalty, Palmeirast had only one other shot on target, by Wesley. With some saves by Weverton and a ball saved over the line by Zé Rafael, the clean sheet was maintained and Palmeiras returned to Brazil with a victory and an important advantage in the return leg.
Weverton; Marcos Rocha, Kuscevic, Gustavo Gómez and Viña (Victor Luis); Danilo, Zé Rafael and Scarpa (Dudu); Raphael Veiga (Patrick de Paula), Breno Lopes (Wesley) and Deyverson (Willian).
Marcos Rocha, Viña and Wesley received yellow cards.
Weverton returned to show why he’s so important for Palmeiras, with several important saves, and when he wasn’t there to put the ball away, Zé Rafael – who also had a splendid night – did his job of saving Palmeiras. Their services were paramount to secure victory and increase to 13 games Palmeiras’ unbeaten streak away in the Libertadores, the longest of any team ever in the history of the tournament. That’s 10 victories and 3 draws.
Palmeiras relied too much on the idea of having to seize a single opportunity to kill the game and abdicate of playing. We had already seen this relentless pursuit for the victory trusting in a perfect defensive game against Independiente del Valle in their only defeat at home in the Libertadores history, but Católica was a much weaker opponent than the Ecuadorians.
Of course the 1-0 away victory is an excellent result but let’s turn the red light on to avoid the same mistakes as in the last couple of times Palmeiras played a return leg at home with an advantage. The most recent, against CRB in the round-of-32 of the Brazil Cup, and in 2019, in the Libertadores quarterfinals against Grêmio. Attention must be at the highest possible level to avoid disaster.
Before the return leg, Palmeiras play to maintain the lead in the Brazilian League. The opponent are Atlético Goianiense, who eliminated Corinthians from this year’s edition of the Brazil Cup and in the second round of the Brazilian League defeated São Paulo 2-0. Not the most difficult opponent, but it won’t be an easy game.
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.