Palmeiras paid a high price for the epic victory against Atlético Mineiro in the quarterfinals: red cards suspended Danilo for the two legs of the semi-finals and Gustavo Scarpa for the first leg. The team felt the consequences.
Abel opted for substituting Danilo with Gabriel Menino, and Gustavo Scarpa with José López, moving Rony to the left-wing and positioning the Argentinean as a legit centre forward.
Palmeiras started the game taking control of the ball. Already in the 5th minute, José López wasted a clear opportunity to score, and that was the beginning of a sequence of errors that led to Athletico’s opener.
Gustavo Gómez made two errors he’s not used to make. First he almost scored an own goal and then, he just about allowed Vitor Roque coming face to face with Weverton. Those were not good signs.
In the 22th minute, yet another lack of attention from our defensive line as Vitor Roque dominated the ball inside the penalty area and turned to fire away. The shot deflected off Gustavo Gómez but the ball remained in the box: Alex Santana quickly controlled it before pushing it to the back of the net.
The good side of conceding an early goal was to have enough time to at least draw the game. However, Palmeiras were not on a good night. The situation got worse after Raphael Veiga felt an ankle injury in the 47th minute after a tackle by Hugo Moura.
A gasp of hope arose in the 70th minute, with the same Hugo Moura receiving a late red card. The advantage of playing 11 vs 10 was effective only in the defensive end, as Athletico stopped to create counter attack opportunities. Palmeiras’ increased offensive production was not enough to score the equalizer.
The defeat interrupted the historic unbeaten runs Palmeiras so far sustained in the tournament: the longest unbeaten overall run (18 games) and the longest unbeaten away run (20 games).
The result per se was not that bad, the worrying part perhaps being the performance. However, at an Allianz Parque packed with 40 thousand supporters, we know that Abel’s Palmeiras are able to deliver magic. Fingers crossed another of those historic exhibitions has been reserved for Tuesday night.
Scoppia che la vittoria è nostra!
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by Augusto Anteghini Oazi & Kristian Bengtson