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It was not the best version of Palmeiras, but the team was denied the victory because of two errors from the referee. Against a team that had all their players on the defensive field during the whole game, Palmeiras again struggled to create goal opportunities.

Roger Machado indicated through the week that he could spare some players and so he did: Weverton, Thiago Martins and Moisés replaced Jailson, Edu Dracena and Bruno Henrique respectively in the starting eleven.

As of kick-off, the game perspective was clear: Chapecoense parked the bus and Palmeiras would have to try hard to find space between the opponent’s defensive lines. In the 11th minute, Lucas Lima found that space, the ball reaching Borja behind the defenders. The Colombian scored, but in a very dubious call, the goal was rendered offside.

In the 17th minute, Dudu took a corner but Jandrei saved Thiago Martins header. Two minutes later, Felipe Melo was pushed inside the box while preparing for a header: a more than clear penalty that the referee chose to not award.

Chapecoense had a good opportunity in the 23th minute, Amaral’s header going just wide. Four minutes later, Rafael Thyere scored for Chapecoense, the goal correctly disallowed for offside. Chape kept the pressure up: in the 30th minute, Elicarlos fired from outside the box, but missed the target.

Palmeiras regained control of the game and had a great opportunity in the 37th minute: Moisés passed the ball to Dudu and our captain fired away, to Jandrei’s impressive save. Two minutes later, Felipe Melo’s long-distance shot missed the target. In the 41st minute, Borja blew an unbelievable opportunity from inside the box.

Roger Machado did not make any halftime substitution, but already in the third minute, Felipe Melo felt his left heel and opted out, Thiago Santos taking his place. In the 10th minute, the first good opportunity for Palmeiras: Dudu took a corner and Borja headed the ball over the goalpost.

For much of the remainder, the green and white side did not effectively threaten Jandrei’s goal. Then, in the final 15 minutes, Palmeiras turned up the pressure considerably: in the 33rd minute, Apodi intercepted Thiago Santos closing in on the kill; 38th minute, a dangerous shot from Dudu; 44th minute, Keno crossed the ball firmly but Jandrei blocked it; 47th minute, Antônio Carlos headed into the woodwork.

Finally, in the 49th minute, the pressure paid off: Dudu crossed the ball and Antônio Carlos headed it into the back of the net, only to have the goal disallowed due to a non-existing offside. Frustration aplenty as the referee blew his whistle to end the game. Impossible not to compare to the parallel Atlético Mineiro vs Corinthians, where Atlético opened up the scorecard but Corinthians did their habitual routine of pestering the referee enough for him to change his ruling after close to two minutes, alleging a hand ball. In Brazil, VAR is fully implemented, but only for a selected few. 
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Palmeiras remain unbeaten in the Brazilian Championship and this goalless tie takes the team to five points, parked in 7th place in the tables (could drop to 9th, should today’s Santos vs Vasco not end in a draw and América Mineiro beat Vitória). After three rounds, the table has Flamengo on top at 7 points, followed by Corinthians and Atlético Mineiro, both at 6.

Players now return their attention to the Libertadores Cup, where Alianza Lima await in Peru on Thursday. Palmeiras already classified to the knockout phase, Roger Machado aims for the best campaign possible in order to secure a second leg home advantage.

Scoppia che la vittoria è nostra!

– – – ooo – – – 
by Augusto Anteghini Oazi

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