We wrote last week that the impossible very seldom happens. But we made an exception to that: Abel Ferreira’s Palmeiras, a team seemingly committed to the impossible.
In the first leg we were forced to come back after trailing Atlético by two goals. Yesterday, the team had to endure playing one man short for 50 minutes and two men short for an additional 15 minutes due to Danilo being sent off in the 29th minute and Gustavo Scarpa in the 81st minute.
After Danilo’s red card, Abel opted for not making any substitution. Players were rearranged to strengthen the defense, while inevitably reducing the offensive firepower. We reached halftime without Atlético having created any dangerous opportunities.
As the clock ticked on in the second half, it was expected that Palmeiras would increasingly feel the fatigue of playing one man short, but our players bravely resisted and for most of the time, levelled with the opponent. Coach Abel continued with the same 10 men on the pitch. That is, until the second blow of the night: Scarpa’s red card with some 15 minutes remaining, including injury time.
Again, the impossible stared us in the face but once more, Palmeiras proved impossible is nothing. Atlético Mineiro did threaten Weverton’s goal a few times, but the final whistle confirmed the reality of the penalty shootout.
Among supporters, the relief of resisting for 90 minutes was immediately taken by the fear of another defeat in a penalty shootout: after all, the recent track record read five shootouts, five defeats.
Both teams converted all of their five initial penalties. Weverton saved the first of the alternate penalties, taken by Rubens, and young defender Murilo put the ball into the back of the net to take Palmeiras to the 2022 Libertadores semifinals, where Athlético Paranaense or Estudientes (ARG) await.
Press, players and Abel were unanimous in saying that the supporters at the Allianz Parque played a crucial role on another epic night. From the moment Danilo received the red card, the chants intensified to minimize the disadvantage on the field and our fans remained committed to the impossible all the way to qualification.
The first semifinal leg takes place in three week’s time. Before that, for the Brazilian league, Palmeiras will “only” play Corinthians (runners-up), Flamengo (5th) and Fluminense (3rd). Literally, it’s a month of make or break for Palmeiras. Or, putting a more positive spin on things, a month full of opportunities to remain the team of the impossible.
Scoppia che la vittoria è nostra!
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by Augusto Anteghini Oazi & Kristian Bengtson