A record-breaking 41.361 supporters at the Allianz Parque saw Palmeiras initiate the first half like a steamroller. With 15 minutes on the clock, Palmeiras had already scored twice with Piquerez and Raphael Veiga. São Paulo were baffled and on the path to an historic defeat, trying to come to terms with the fact that the 1-0 from the first leg had already evaporated.
Now enjoying the advantage, Palmeiras slowed the rhythm but without loosing its edge, creating a steady stream of opportunities. The biggest of them in the 66th minute, a penalty in our favour, with the always reliable Raphael Veiga stepping up to the ball. What followed led to Palmeiras’ elimination.
Veiga missed the penalty and two minutes later, the referee fabricated a penalty to São Paulo which Luciano converted to make it 2-2 on the aggregate.
In the next 25 minutes Palmeiras worked hard to avoid the penalty shootout and Jandrei made at least three excellent saves. As the final whistle sounded, the atmosphere at the Allianz Parque was tense to say the least, the previous four consecutive penalty shootout defeats very alive in everybody’s mind.
Veiga opened the penalty shootout and once more failed to convert. Weverton saved Luciano’s shot. Both teams scored each of their next three attempts, until Wesley missed the last one for Palmeiras. Igor Gomes didn’t waste the opportunity, eliminating Palmeiras from the Copa do Brasil.
The elimination is tough to accept after Palmeiras had such a tremendous start: Veiga making it 3-0 would have been the final blow to knock São Paulo out and secure a spot in the quarterfinals. Even worse was the refereeing: there is consensus among sports journalists that the penalty awarded SPFC was insane. VAR in Brazil is simply not working as it should and it’s maddening.
If there is any good outcome of the elimination is that Palmeiras will play six games less until the end of the season, giving the squad more time to rest. The aspirations of winning the Brazilian League, and top that off with bagging the Libertadores for the third consecutive season, remain alive. And although today everybody is fuming, on Monday we’ll be at the Allianz Parque again pushing the team on against Cuiabá.
Scoppia che la vittoria è nostra!
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by Augusto Anteghini Oazi & Kristian Bengtson