São Paulo Brazil
Only the second half was enough.
Of pressure, intensity and block attacks.
And Palmeiras, the current two-time champion of Libertadores, and owner of the best campaign of the tournament, prevailed against Cerro Porteño, owner of the weakest path to the round of 16.
With two goals from Rony and one from Murilo, the Brazilian team thrashed the Paraguayans, in the middle of Asunción, by 3 to 0. Which gives a gigantic advantage for the decisive game, next Wednesday, at Allianz Parque.
It was the seventh victory in seven matches of the competition. With 28 goals in favor and three against. An incredible hike. He got the biggest unbeaten streak away from home, in the competition. There are 14 wins and five draws.
Abel Ferreira’s team continues to impose itself in an overwhelming way.
In the first half, Palmeiras tried to hold back the momentum of the Paraguayans. Abel Ferreira did not want the direct confrontation. Even for physical reasons. He knew that his team, despite being much superior technically, would not be able to score strong, in the Cerro Porteño field, for 90 minutes.
Hence the decision to make their players hold back. They scored on the Palmeiras field, attracting Cerro Porteño, directed by Arce, one of the best full-backs who played in Palestra Itália.
Pressured by the crowd at La Olla stadium, and by the attitude of the current two-time champion of Libertadores, the Paraguayans tried to believe. They climbed the mark for the palmeirense intermediary. They sought physical pressure, since they had no technique. There was an excess of crosses to the area, facilitating the work of the best pair of defenders that Palmeiras discovered this season. Murilo and Gustavo Gomez. Luan, for justice, went to the reservation.
Raphael Veiga started the game after the injury he suffered in his right thigh at the beginning of the month. The team had two great point guards. Gustavo Scarpa is going through a sensational phase. But the two remained stuck in the middle. Just like Dudu, he was more concerned with scoring Alan Rodríguez than attacking.
Rony tried alone to face the virile defense of Cerro Porteño.
Arce’s team tried, wanted to get ahead of the score, but lacked repertoire.
The first half ended drowsy, with goalkeepers Weverton and Jean calmly watching the match.
But in the final 45 minutes, everything changed.
Palmeiras’ stance was different. What surprised the Paraguayan team, which had returned more open, believing that it could achieve the feat of defeating the great favorite.
It was the big mistake.
With Palmeiras prepared to attack and finding space, with the Paraguayan defense unprotected, the picture was set. In the 13th minute, after a great exchange of the ball, rehearsed, Raphael Veiga kicks hard from the edge of the area, Jean hits and then works miracles, defending, with his left foot, finishes off Danilo’s face.
But two minutes later, there was no way. Scarpa made an excellent cross from behind the back for Ron’s strong header. Palmeiras 1 to 0.
The goal had an immediate effect on both teams. It gave even more confidence to the excellent team of Abel Ferreira. And it discouraged, scared, Cerro Porteño.
The pressure continued, and Palmeiras scored the second goal as if they were training. With the Paraguayan defense wide open, Scarpa finds Dudu free, instead of kicking he rolls towards Ron, free. 2-0 after VAR review.
After the second goal, scored in the 24th minute, Palmeiras calmed down. Abel Ferreira was able to spare his players. It was evident that victory was set.
Raphael Veiga, Gustavo Scarpa and Dudu left the match after 30 minutes. The pace of the match slowed down again. But there was still time for another goal from a rehearsed play.
Gabriel Menino took a corner, Gustavo Gómez fixed it for Murilo. The defender forces Jean to make another spectacular save, but the ball is left for Murilo to score, calmly, 3-0.
Very important victory for Palmeiras, which sends them to the quarterfinals, waiting for the winner of Atlético Mineiro and Emelec.
Not even the Paraguayans dare to dream that they will win by a four-goal advantage at Allianz Parque.
The feeling is clear.
This round of 16 match is over…
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