Grêmio fight back to stun Palmeiras at the Pacaembu

Grêmio come from two goals down to reach the Copa Libertadores semi-finals. They will take on either Internacional or Flamengo in the final four.

Eight minutes. Just four hundred and eighty seconds. That’s all it took to turn this match on its head, for Grêmio to react and seize control of the tie and for Palmeiras to throw away the luxury of a two-goal cushion in front of a full Pacamebu stadium.

Palmeiras 1-2 Grêmio. 2-2 on aggregate. The visitors go through on way goals, reaching their third successive Libertadores semi-final, while boss Renato Gaúcho will be hoping to lift his second continental crown in the last three years.

And there can be no denying that the result was a fair one. This was no smash and grab job; Grêmio came, stuck to a game plan and left with what they required, with relative ese following a shaky start.

But for that to happen, the tricolor gaucho had to make history. Grêmio had never beaten Palmeiras at the Pacamebu prior to this evening -  a goal down from the first leg in Porto Alegre, that would simply have to change were the away side to progress this evening.

Yet as the match kicked off, you could be forgiven for thinking that the match would consist of a Palmeiras onslaught. The home side and current Brazilin league champions raced out of the blocks, looking lively in the final third with new arrival Luiz Adriaano looking particularly dangerous through the middle.

And it was indeed the no. 10 who opened the scoring on the night, pouncing on a loose ball inside the penalty area to convert the chance on 14 minutes. The strike put Palmeiras ahead on the night and 2-0 up on aggregate, and from the opening exchanges it was no less than they deserved – now, the advantage was clearly with the Verdão.

It lasted less than three minutes. Brazil international Éverton “Cebolinha” popped up at the far post with an expertly taken volley to level on the night, and leaving Grêmio needing just one more goal to take charge of the tie.

It came just five minutes later. Again, Éverton was at the heart of it, his fearless running leaving the Palmeiras defence all at sea, goalkeeper Weverton being unable to gather the loose ball and Alisson gleefully swept it into the gaping net with just 23 minutes on the clock.

For Palmeiras, there was precious little reaction. Shell-shocked following their fast start, they found themselves behind midway through the first half but without the answers to retake control of the tie.

Renato Gaúcho won the battle of the tacticians with Luiz Felipe Scolari on the touchline. Grêmio now await the winners of the semi-final between city rivals Internacional and Flamengo. For Palmeiras and their fans, there can only be bitter disappointment after such a promising start.

 

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