By Nelson Belen, Contributing Reporter
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – In the second to last round of the 2016 Campeonato Brasileiro Série A (Brasileirão), on Sunday, November 27th, league leader Palmeiras defeated Chapecoense, 1×0, to clinch the 2016 Brasileirão championship. For Palmeiras, the 2016 title ends a 22-year drought and makes the team the all-time winningest club in league history with an unprecedented nine titles.
In Sunday’s match against Chapecoense, the hometown crowd at Allianz Parque in São Paulo was at a fever pitch from the opening whistle hoping they would witness Palmeiras make history.
The celebration began early in the first period, but not from anything on the field. The stadium exploded when an update flashed across the stadium that over in Rio, at Maracanã, Flamengo had scored its first goal against second-place team, Santos. Heading into Sunday’s match, Santos was the only club that had a mathematical chance, albeit a slight one, to catch Palmeiras.
The optimism of Palmeiras’ fans would soon be rewarded when, at the 25th minute, off a seemingly innocent free kick, Palmeiras’ Fabiano poked a high-arching lob over a helpless Chapecoense keeper Danilo, who watched the ball sail past him into the net for the game’s first goal.
A great redemption save by Danilo on phenom Gabriel Jesus, right before the half, prevented Palmeiras from doubling its lead. But, it would be too little too late as Palmeiras continued to dominate ball possession in the second half to hold on for the 1×0 victory.
As the clock ran out the players and fans began the emotional celebration. Though the championship is Palmeiras’ ninth, more than any other club, it had not won a title in 22 years, with its last championship coming in 1994.
By the end of Sunday, Palmeiras had a total of 77 points, seven ahead of Rio’s CR Flamengo, who also that day leapfrogged into second place with its impressive 2×0 win over Santos, who now find themselves in third place.
With a slim two-point lead over Santos, the Rubro-Negra can secure the second spot in the 2016 Brasileirão standings with a win in its final game against Atlético Paranaense on Sunday, December 4th.