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Atlético Mineiro and Palmeiras tied 2-2 in the first leg of the Copa Libertadores quarterfinals

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Two-time champion Palmeiras rescued a 2-2 draw after the hour in his visit to Atlético Mineiro in Belo Horizonte on Wednesday, in the first leg of the 2022 Copa Libertadores quarterfinals. Alexi Stival “Cuca” returned to Mineirao, the winningest coach in the history of the ‘Galo’, by equalizing in stoppage time with a goal from Danilo (90+2). “We are used to qualifying games, to big games,” said the midfielder. The Brazilian champion had taken the lead with a goal from Hulk in the minute of injury time of the first half and a goal against defender Murilo Cerqueira (47), who redeemed himself from his misfortune by making it 2-1 in the 59th minute .

”The tie is frustrating. We generated quite a few (goal options), but we couldn’t define it,” said Hulk. Although they interrupted their triumphant march (they had won the previous eight games), the São Paulo players came out of Belo Horizonte in good standing and will define their place in the semis next Wednesday in São Paulo. The winner will clash against the winner of the key between Athletico Paranaense and Estudiantes, who will face each other this Thursday night Break the drought.

Cuca thought she was responding to the idyll exhibited by the ‘torcedores’ on their return to Mineirao; The DT did not set foot in that stadium since his surprise departure at the end of last season, the most successful of the ‘Galo’ (Brasileirao, Copa do Brasil and Mineiro Championship). The scene of his return seemed like a deja vú of their meeting in the main club tournament in America. In that September he also faced Palmeiras and Hulk celebrated a penalty. But now there are at least a couple of differences: in 2021 they collided in the semis, defeated by the Paulistas, ultimately two-time champions, and the gunner this time scored from twelve steps. The player in jersey No. 7 took revenge this Wednesday for that blunder that deprived Mineiro of aspiring to its second Libertadores title with a creeping shot to the left post by Weverton. The penalty, decreed for an infraction by Marcos Rocha on the midfielder Jair, also allowed him to reconcile with the goal after five dry games and made him the Albinegros’ all-time top scorer in the Copa Libertadores (12 goals). His companions accompanied him in the celebration, in solidarity and at the same time relieved that someone finally brought down the emerald fence after several wasted chances, especially at the feet of Keno (17) and Ademir (31).

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The celebration was justified, as they hit a team that before kick-off had barely conceded just three goals in eight games, scored a perfect score and dragged the record of 19 cup games without losing as a visitor. Mineiro was shaking off the bad run in the Brasileirao (seventh, ten points behind the leader Palmeiras) and seemed closer to scoring than Palmeiras to equalizing thanks to Cuca winning the tactical pulse over Ferreira by avoiding the lethal Palmeira counterattacks and suffocating them in their own area. The trap led to an overflow of Keno on the left. Before the ball went out, the attacker launched a lethal pass that Murilo Cerqueira converted to make it 2-0. But the goal against acted as a shock for the paulistas, who were quickly shaken through a repertoire weapon: the stopped ball. Gustavo Scarpa hit a free kick off Everson’s crossbar, with such good luck that the ball was served at the feet of Murilo, who pushed it to redeem himself from the mistake on his goal. And then, in one of the last actions of the electrifying game, Scarpa took a corner that Danilo made equal and a lesson: the two-time champion should never be left for dead.


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