Abel maintained the same gang from the first leg minus Breno Lopes, who was subbed by Wesley. The formation was also repeated, with three defenders and Rony as a “fake” centre-forward, with Dudu, Raphael Veiga and Wesley floating behind him.
The strategy paid off almost instantaneously. Already in the 10th minute, Wesley initiated a counter-attack with Zé Rafael, who carried the ball for a few meters before assisting Veiga’s opener. The early goal put more pressure on São Paulo, who now needed two goals to progress directly to the semifinals.
Very well positioned defensively, Palmeiras didn’t allow the rival many chances. Although already in advantage, the best opportunities in the first half were Verdão’s, with Rony forcing Tiago Volpi to make a difficult save and a shot from Veiga a few centimetres wide.
Palmeiras returned to the second half with the same strategy, knowing that each minute that passed would increase the pressure on São Paulo. The equalizer could have happened, but Pablo grossly missed the one, golden opportunity. Palmeiras didn’t. In the 67th minute, Dudu increased the lead and in the 78th minute, Patrick de Paula put final numbers to the game.
Palmeiras progress to the second consecutive semifinal in the Libertadores Cup, the third in the last four seasons. The title is still the main goal, but the fact that we finally got a Libertadores victory against the enemy, besides again securing a spot among the best teams on the continent, are enough to prove that Abel Ferreira is nothing short of a genius. Make sure to watch the highlights below!
Weverton; Marcos Rocha, Luan, Gustavo Gómez and Renan; Danilo, Zé Rafael (Patrick de Paula) and Raphael Veiga (Piquerez); Dudu (Felipe Melo), Wesley (Gabriel Menino) and Rony (Deyverson).
The whole team was on a splendid night. Dudu is definitely back and in style, scoring an astonishing goal against an opponent that he has never lost against while playing for Palmeiras.
Although Palmeiras didn’t allow spfc a single shot on target, in the beginning of the second half the fate of the game could have changed. Luckily, Pablo sent the ball over the crossbar and Weverton remained as a mere spectator until the final whistle.
The referee failed to award several fouls and yellow cards to our opponent, permitting them to unpunished stop counter-attacks unfairly.
Palmeiras now have some time to focus only on the Brasileirão. The next game is on Sunday, at home, against Cuiabá. Although the recently promoted team is fighting against relegation, they have lost only one away game in the tournament, a feat they share with Corinthians and Red Bull Bragantino. Palmeiras can’t even consider the possibility of losing points in this next game, as we’re on a three-games spell without winning and leaders Atlético Mineiro currently enjoy a five-point gap.
Scoppia che la vittoria è nostra!
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by Augusto Anteghini Oazi
*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.