By Nelson Belen, Contributing Reporter
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – It was a busy day in 2016 Copa do Brasil (Brazil Cup) action on Wednesday, September 21st, as several top teams punched their tickets to the Quarterfinals. While Grêmio and Corinthians won (Grêmio on penalty kicks) to advance, Palmeiras, the current leader in the Campeonato Brasileiro Série A (Brasileirão) and defending Copa do Brasil champion, still lives on in the tournament despite a disappointing loss on Wednesday.
In a hard-fought, emotional battle at Grêmio Stadium, Atletico-PR defeated the home team 1×0 in normal time. Due to Grêmio’s earlier victory over Atletico-PR in Curitiba by the same score, both teams went to penalty kicks to decide their Copa do Brasil fates. Grêmio ensured it would be a happy debut for rookie head coach Renato Gaúcho, as in penalty kicks, it overcame Atletico-PR 4×3 to move on in the tournament.
Another club dealing with management changes, Corinthians also advanced on Wednesday, thanks to star player Rodriguinho. Rodriguinho scored the decisive goal in the club’s 1×0 victory over Fluminense at Corinthians Arena, which is currently being led by interim coach Fabio Carille. Former coach Cristóvão Borges had been fired on Saturday, September 17th, after a string of poor performances.
Fielding a team of reserves, Palmeiras lost 1×0 to Botafogo-PB in Almeidão Stadium. Despite the loss, Palmeiras still advances to the Brazil Cup quarterfinals thanks to the club’s 3×0 win in the first leg of the home-away series at Allianz Park.
Following the game, Palmerias head coach Alexi Stival, also known as Cuca, addressed those criticizing his decision to play reserves in the elimination match, plainly stating that the Campeonato Brasileiro is the club’s priority.
“You have to evaluate many things, have to evaluate the work as a whole, the planning on this competition and the Campeonato Brasileiro, which is our priority,” said Cuca. Currently, Palmeiras sits atop the Brasileirão holding a razor-thin lead over Flamengo, 51 points to fifty.
The Copa do Brasil continues with more elimination games on Friday, September 23rd.
The Copa do Brasil is a knockout tournament running from March to November that includes clubs from around Brazil competing in a series of home-away matches. Following Wednesday’s games, the clubs so far confirmed for the quarterfinals are Grêmio, Corinthians, Palmeiras, Cruzeiro, Santos, and Atlético-MG.