Corinthians came out on top in today’s eagerly-awaited classico with Palmeiras. Four goals were scored in ten crazy first half minutes in a pulsating game.Â
Title deciders are often cagey affairs and decided by the odd goal. Not this one. Angel Romero poked home Rodriguinho’s miss-hit shot at the back post to open the scoring in the 26th minute. Palmeiras desperately pushed forward in search of an equaliser but left gaping holes in their defence; Jo was put clean through, only to fire straight at the keeper. It should have been 2 – 0. Seconds later it was. More poor Palmeiras defending saw Balbuena bundle the ball over the line at the same back post after nobody dealt with the Corinthians corner. Two minutes and two second separated the two goals.
The noise coming from the Corinthians fans was deafening and the game now pulsating. My TV set was rocking. Corinthians were on top, looking good and going eight points clear at the top. Palmeiras knew they had to react. They did. Two half chances came and went; had their Colombian striker Borja been a bit more alert, they would have pulled a goal back. That task was left to another Colombian, towering young centre back Yerry Mina, who powered in a header from a corner. Palmeiras’ pressure had paid off, the crowd was silenced and Palmeiras had built up a head of steam.
No sooner had they done that then their defence was torn apart once again. Jo was put through on goal once more and a fumbling Edu Dracena fouled him not once, not twice but three times. Penalty. Dracena lucky not to be sent off. Up stepped Jo. Bang. Unstoppable.
Catch your breath.
The second period was never going to be that good. But it didn’t let anybody down either, unless you are a Palmeiras fan. Corinthians started on top and had a series of half chances from corners, which were expertly taken by the diminutive Clayson. With Corinthians’ centre backs, Balbuena and Pablo, a real threat from set pieces I thought it was only a matter of time before Corinthians increased their lead. Palmeiras just about managed to keep them out.
Palmeiras belatedly started to grow into the second half and started to play some good stuff with their captain Dudu buzzing around on the wing and Tche Tche and Moises pulling the strings in midfield. And it wasn’t too long before Moises pulled one goal back. This was an excellent finish after a rare moment of sloppy Corinthians defending. This was turning out to be one of the best games I’ve seen for a long time. Pulsating. Corinthians were excellent in defence and Palmeiras very good in attack. Would something give?
Corinthians were playing a risky game though by sitting back and soaking up the pressure. And Palmeiras continued to press. There was a curling free kick from Dudu which was a few inches too high for Borja to get his head to. Roger Guedes – a half time sub for Keno – was only a few inches away too from that ball too. Egidio, who scored a cracking goal against Fluminense a few weeks ago, flashed a few long range shots over the top.
But when Deyverson was a rather harsh red card for an arm into Fagner’s face – harsh because Deyverson is about twice the height of Fagner so his elbow ordinarily rests around the same level as Fagner’s face – it looked like Palmeiras’ chance had gone. Until the 6th minute of injury time: Roger Guedes was put through by a quick throw in. Palmeiras players were lining up in the middle and it seemed harder to pick out an opponent than a teammate. Sadly for Palmeiras, that is exactly what he did.
Full time. Corinthians 3 Palmeiras 2.
Corinthians move eight points clear of Palmeiras with six league games remaining. Santos – who beat Atletico Mineiro 3 -1 yesterday – are now in second place and six points behind the league leaders. Palmeiras, meanwhile, slip to fourth after Gremio beat Flamengo to move into third. It’s not all over yet, but Corinthians have taken a massive step towards winning the title.
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