With all regular starters at his disposal, Abel opted for the line-up that has became the base of the Third Academy: Weverton; Marcos Rocha, Gustavo Gómez, Murilo and Piquerez; Zé Rafael, Danilo and Raphael Veiga; Gustavo Scarpa, Dudu and Rony.
The first half can be resumed in one statistic: no shots on target fired. Cerro Porteño were very well guarded, not allowing Palmeiras to find spaces to attack, but also not offering any threat to Weverton.
The second half started in the same fashion, but Cerro’s players inevitably began to physically cave in and Palmeiras were able to build a considerable advantage ahead of the second leg of the round of 16.
Rony scored the opener in the 60th minute and nine minutes later, he increased Palmeiras’ lead, while also equalling Pelé and Zico in goals scored in the Libertadores: 16.
Feeling the victory was guaranteed, Abel subbed off Veiga, Scarpa and Dudu, sparing them for the game against Athletico Paranaense on Sunday. Although now full of substitutes, Palmeiras were able to find a third goal with Murilo in the 87th minute.
With the victory, Palmeiras reached another record mark, winning eight games in a row in the Libertadores, equalling the longest winning streak of any team in Libertadores history. A home victory against Cerro in the return game, and Palmeiras would overtake Estudiantes, Peñarol, Santos, Cruzeiro and Vasco as the sole team with nine strait Libertadores victories.
So far in this year’s edition, Palmeiras occupy the top three goalscoring positions: Navarro (7), Veiga (6) and Rony (5).
There is only one game left in the round of 16 at the moment of punlishing (Fortaleza vs. Estudiantes) and the only team to have won by a margin greater than one goal was Palmeiras. The progress to the quarterfinals is practically secured and gives Abel the option to line-up an alternative team in the second leg, putting some key players to rest. The team must be attentive, but it is hard to imagine Cerro Porteño getting a heroic comeback at the Allianz Parque.
Scoppia che la vittoria è nostra!
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by Augusto Anteghini Oazi & Kristian Bengtson