The starting eleven against Independiente Petrolero had only three regular starters – Weverton, Gustavo Gómez and Zé Rafael – coach Abel resting key players in this second round of the Libertadores groups stage, counting on the subs to secure victory at home against a much weaker opponent.
Independiente Petrolero’s early opener put the strategy at risk. Encouraged by the feat of beating the current champions, the Bolivian side bravely resisted Palmeiras’ attempts. The equalizer came only in the 41st minute through a long-range shot signed Zé Rafael.
After experiencing so much difficulty pushing the ball into the back of the net in the first 45 minutes, nobody could foresee what happened in the second half. Every remaining paragraph will contain a record that Palmeiras broke yesterday.
Rafael Navarro came on and put Palmeiras in the lead in the 47th minute. Nine minutes later, he had completed his hat-trick. The fastest hat-trick by any Palmeiras player in Libertadores history.
But Navarro wasn’t finished. In the 78th minute, he scored his fourth in the game, becoming the first player ever to score a poker for Palmeiras in the Libertadores.
As if not enough, two minutes later Navarro assisted Rony, who netted to equalize Alex as Palmeiras’ top scorer in the tournament, with 12 goals.
Although we had already seen a handful of beautiful goals, the true pieces of art were reserved for the final minutes: Raphael Veiga executed an astonishing volley following a corner to make it 7-1, and shortly after placed a free kick beautifully to close the scorecard. Palmeiras scored eight goals in a game for the first time in Libertadores history.
The 8-1 was also enough to make Palmeiras the first Brazilian team to break the 400-goals barrier in the Libertadores, and the 7th overall. The current count: 404 goals.
Against weaker opponents, we’ve seen Palmeiras score one, two, three and keep pushing, leaving the adversary with no time to breath between the hits. And yesterday, mind you, with a team full of substitutes. Maybe a bit early to talk about Abel Ferreira reaching the pinnacle of his work – after all, earlier this week, in the Brazilian League debut at home against Ceará, Palmeiras suffered a 2-3 defeat – but Palmeiras are without doubt the team to beat. Now, the challenge is on how to maintain the level until the end of the season.
Scoppia che la vittoria è nostra!
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by Augusto Anteghini Oazi