Palmeiras, with a 1-1 draw in their visit to the Brazilian Atlético Mineiro, guaranteed their qualification for their second consecutive final of the tournament they won last year on Tuesday.
The green team from Sao Paulo, owner of two Libertadores titles (1999 and 2020) and which will play its sixth final of the tournament, guaranteed the classification for having scored in the draw as a visitor and after having yielded a 0-0 draw in the first leg last week at his house.
Mineiro, the best Libertadores team so far and that was the favorite to advance to the final, dominated the game at home and opened the scoring through Chilean Eduardo Vargas at the beginning of the second half, but Palmeiras, who played to defend themselves , got the tie with Dudú fifteen minutes later.
Palmeiras will be measured in the final of the Libertadores, scheduled for next November 27 in a single match at the Centenario stadium in Montevideo, the winner of the duel between the Brazilian Flamengo and the Ecuadorian Barcelona.
The second finalist will be defined this Wednesday in the visit that Flamengo will make to Barcelona in Guayaquil after the victory of the reigning Brazilian champion 2-0 in the first leg of the semifinals played last week at the Maracanã stadium.
The two teams took turns attacking in the first minutes of the match, with Vargas, included in the starting eleven due to the injury of the Spanish-Brazilian Diego Costa, leading Mineiro’s offenses, and Dudú and Rony sharing those of Palmeiras.
The first dangerous play was generated by the locals when Vargas received a deep ball, advanced to the bottom and crossed looking for the Argentine Matías Zaracho, who failed to arrive in time.
After a few moments, the Mineiro was assuming dominance, with Vargas advancing on the left, Hulk in the center and Zaracho on the right, and Nacho Fernández a little further behind.
Palmeiras, although he lined up his defense with three defenders, practically defended himself with five players all the time and tried to take advantage of the speed of Dudú and Rony to try to surprise with counterattacks.
In one of those counterattacks, in the 25th minute, the Uruguayan side Joaquín Piquerez, who this Tuesday played more advanced and as a creative, took advantage of a long pass from goalkeeper Weverton and Mariano’s failure to try to surprise Everson from afar and almost managed to open the marker in the most dangerous play of Palmeiras in the first half.
Despite the fact that Mineiro insisted on their offensives, also advancing with side Guilherme Arana to join the four men in attack, Palmeiras totally neutralized the locals with their defensive strategy.
Vargas was the one who insisted the most on the attack on the Mineiro in the first half and the most dangerous, but he rarely threatened Everson’s goal. The Chilean almost opened the scoring at the end of the first half but his play was interrupted by an offside.
In the second half, the Hulk took center stage in the Mineiro attack and in the first minutes put Weverton in trouble at least three times.
The locals’ insistence paid off in the seventh minute when Jair advanced on the left to the back of the court and made a shot that Vargas took advantage of with a header to open the scoring.
Palmeiras felt the blow and immediately went on the attack to seek the equalizer mainly with offensive plays by Dudú.
A minute after entering the court to replace Rony, Gabriel Verón managed to invade the Mineiro area and assist Dudú so that Palmeiras scored the equalizer in the 77th minute.
With the tie guaranteeing him qualification, Palmeiras coach, Portuguese Abel Ferreira, decided to further strengthen his defense and also sacrificed attacker Dudú, leaving only Wesley up front.
For his part, Mineiro’s coach, Alexis Stival ‘Cuca’, reinforced his attack with the entry of Venezuelan Jefferson Savarino and attacker Eduardo Sasha.
But Palmeiras calmly managed the draw in their favor and, with almost the entire team defending themselves, they guaranteed their qualification to their second consecutive Libertadores final.
– Data sheet:
1. Atlético Mineiro: Éverson; Mariano, Nathan Silva, Júnior Alonso, Guilherme Arana; Allan (m.90, Tché Tché), Jair (m.78, Jefferson Savarino), Matías Zaracho (m.84, Eduardo Sasha), Nacho Fernández (m.90, Réver); Eduardo Vargas and the Hulk.
Coach: Alexis Stival ‘Cuca’.
1. Palmeiras: Wéverton; Luan, Gustavo Gómez, Renan, Marcos Rocha (d.76, Gabriel Menino); Danilo, Felipe Melo, Raphael Veiga (m.82, Wesley), Joaquín Piquerez; Rony (m.67, Gabriel Verón) and Dudú (m.82, Zé Rafael).
Coach: Abel Ferreira
Goals: 1-0, m.52: Eduardo Vargas. 1-1, m.68: Dudú.
Referee: Colombian Wilmar Roldán admonished Nathan Silva, Marcos Rocha, Luan and Felipe Melo.
Incidents: second leg for the semifinals of the Copa Libertadores played at the Mineirao stadium in Belo Horizonte before some 18,000 spectators. EFE