Soccer returned to Exploria Stadium tonight as the 2020 Florida Cup got underway with the first of its two doubleheaders this week. Corinthians defeated New York City FC 2-1 on the strength of two magnificent goals from Luan in the opening match and Palmeiras and Atletico Nacional drew 0-0 in the second match before the Brazilian team won the ensuing epic penalty shootout, 10-9. Both Palmeiras and Nacional earned a point for the draw, with Palmeiras getting a second point for winning the spot kicks competition.
It was the best attended weekday match in Florida Cup history as a total of 7,837 fans showed up to watch the pair of matches, including a very nice showing from Palmeiras and Nacional supporters.
New York City FC took on Brazilian side Corinthians in the opener. The MLS side started a young lineup made up of several academy players, with former Orlando City midfielder Tony Rocha getting a run-out at left back.
NYCFC XI | Barraza, Scally, Ibeagha, Sands, Rocha, Haak, Torres, Fatah, Zelalem, Jasson, De Rosario— New York City FC (@NYCFC) January 15, 2020
Subs | Mizell, Taylor, Gray, Amponsah, Dumas, Suchecki, Kim, Kapanadze, Fortune, Perez, Lansade, Acito, Flax#FloridaCup | #NYCFC pic.twitter.com/TENLx2jXFM
It showed on the field, as Corinthians bossed play for the entire opening 45 minutes, hardly conceding a shot attempt in the first half. However, the best NYCFC chance came early, as Jasson Andres pounced on a terrible defensive zone giveaway by Janderson Souza and fired the first shot of the game but it was off target.
Mauro Boselli of Corinthians missed just over the bar in the third minute when his shot took a slight deflection. The first shot on target came in the seventh minute from Corinthians when Fagner volleyed right at goalkeeper Luiz Barraza.
Luan opened the scoring with a sensational free kick in the 11th minute. NYCFC’s Joe Scally conceded a free kick just outside the area straight out from goal. Luan picked his spot and blasted his shot past Barraza to make it 1-0.
Carlos Silva headed weakly at Barraza in the 21st minute off a set piece as the Brazilian side continued to control play and look for scoring opportunities. Luan then made it 2-0 after turning Justin Haak and then smashing a shot just inside the left post in the 30th minute.
NYCFC changed out nine players shortly after the second goal but not much changed. Corinthians still won the ball repeatedly in the middle of the pitch, conceded very little to the Pigeons going forward, and just missed on a few counter opportunities, taking a 2-0 lead into the break.
The Brazilian side nearly made it 3-0 just after the restart off a cross from the right wing that got through and eluded second-half NYCFC goalkeeper Cody Mizell. But Corinthians could only bundle it toward goal and it went out for a corner.
From that point on, the match slowed and became a dull affair, with Corinthians committing fewer numbers forward with the two-goal lead. The Brazilians were still getting the better chances, but they were few and far between.
Mateus Vital fired just over the bar in the 72nd minute. on perhaps the best opportunity for Corinthians after that near-miss in the opening minutes of the second half. But New York City FC cut into the lead just a couple of minutes later on an odd play. A Corinthians defender appeared to be tripped while chasing down the ball in his own area. The referee didn’t see it as a foul and allowed play to continue, the ball was fired across from the corner and got by goalkeeper Walter Artune and a NYCFC attacker before hitting defender Sidcley Pereira in the face and bouncing into the net. It was an own goal but Florida Cup scoring gave it to Niko Kapanadze. Either way it pulled New York City FC within 2-1.
The goal seemed to light a bit of a fire under Corinthians and the Brazilian side peppered the net for the next few minutes but couldn’t hit the target. Madson Silva’s volley attempt forced Mizell to make a huge diving save in the 89th minute to keep it a one-goal game.
Eventually NYCFC won a free kick late and had an opportunity to equalize late with a free header but the ball was nodded into the ground and was easy for Artune to collect as Corinthians held on for the 2-1 win.
“I’m very, very proud of the team spirit and the discipline,” NYCFC Head Coach Ronny Deila said of his first match in charge. His academy kids played pretty well after the first half hour but it honestly didn’t seem like Corinthians was all that interested in attacking much after taking the two-goal advantage.
In the nightcap, Palmeiras tried to jump out on top just seconds into the game, as Eduardo Rodrigues Pereira (a.k.a. Dudu) smashed a shot at goalkeeper Daniel Munoz.
Jefferson Duque got the first good opportunity for Nacional, smashing a shot that forced a good save from goalkeeper Weverton Pereira da Silva a few minutes later, then Dudu missed over the bar on a good chance at the other end. The second match was a bit chippy in the first half with some hard fouls and tackles.
In the 16th minute, the Brazilian side nearly broke through on the counter. Lucas Lima sent the ball to the right to Dudu, who broke the ankles of a Nacional defender. When the defender fell, Dudu slotted the ball across to Lima who forced a kick save by Munoz to keep the game scoreless.
The game settled down after the frenetic opening and the teams became a bit more cautious with the ball, but there were a lot of fouls and errant passes that created a lack of flow to the rest of the opening 45 minutes and the teams went into the break level at 0-0.
Both teams switched goalkeepers at the half and Palmeiras substitute Jailson was the busier of the two to start the second session. Jailson made a pair of vital saves to start the half as Nacional looked to draw first blood out of the break. He made another 1-v-1 save in the 51st minute and then Jarlan Barrera should have scored for the Colombian side on the ensuing chip but the shot sailed just inches wide of the far post.
Gabriel Menino blasted a laser shot from long range in the 53rd minute for Palmeiras but Nacional keeper Jose Cuadrado got his fingertips to it to just barely push it over the bar.
Palmeiras nearly won it in the 89th minute. Gabriel Veron Souza stole the ball in the Nacional end and broke down the left side of the area. He beat Cuadrado with his shot but it skidded just inches wide of the far post. Moments later there were penalty shouts when Souza went down in the box but the referee wasn’t having any of it.
That was the last good opportunity of the match and the teams headed into the penalty shootout, where it seemed like no one would ever miss, as each team went 10 players deep in the shootout with the 20th shooter the only one who was unsuccessful.
Victor Luiz Zamblauskas shot first for Palmeiras and Jefferson Duque did a cheeky half-walk shot down the middle to equalize for Nacional. Luan Teixiera and Yerson Candelo were both successful in the second round, and the perfect penalties continued. Alanzinho pushed Palmeiras back in front, only to see Baldomero Perlaza level things again. Menino put Palmeiras back in the lead, but Brayan Rovira just barely scored to make it 4-4. Jailson got a hand to Rovira’s shot and pushed it off the post, but it trickled back across the line and the shootout continued.
Fifth shooters Willian Gomes Siqueira and Barrera scored, then Emerson Santos and Cristian Blanco did likewise in the sixth round. Wesley Ribeiro Silva opened Round 7 with a goal and watched Sebastien Yabur equalize again. Ramires Santos Nacimiento and Juan David Cabal kept things perfect in the eighth round and then things got interesting. After Mayke Oliveira put Palmeiras ahead 9-8 to start Round 9, goalkeeper Cuadrado stepped up and beat Jailson to send the shootout to the 10th round.
Gabriel Veron Souza made Palmeiras 10 for 10 in the shootout and Jailson needed to stop Yilmar Velasquez to avoid having to take his penalty in the 11th round. Jailson dove to his right and got his hands on Velasquez’s shot to win the shootout and earn a second point in the competition for Palmeiras.
The final day of the tournament is Saturday, when New York City FC and Palmeiras kick off at 2 p.m. and Corinthians will face Atletico Nacional at 5:30 p.m.
Standings After Match Day 1
- Corinthians: 1-0-0, 3 points
- Palmeiras: 0-0-1, 2 points (one for the draw and one for winning the penalty shootout)
- Atletico Nacional: 0-0-1, 1 point
- New York City FC: 0-1-0, 0 points