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Penalties are expensive, and Flamengo is eliminated from the World Cup by Al Hilal


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Flamengo stopped in the semifinals in its attempt to win the Club World Cup. The red-black team had defensive flaws, committed two penalties in the first half and had one player less in one of them. Thus, they were unable to avoid a 3-2 defeat by Al Hilal, from Saudi Arabia.

Complaints from Vítor Pereira did not help, who considered the Romanian referee István Kovács too rigorous in the application of the cards and in the expulsion of Gerson. The Portuguese coach, who left Corinthians for the Gávea team in the hope of becoming world champion, will have to compete for third place in Morocco.

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The disappointing campaign got off to a bad start on Tuesday night in Tangier. Right away, Matheuzinho messed up and committed a penalty on Vietto, converted by Salem Al-Dawsari, in the fourth minute. After a few moments of difficulty, however, the Brazilian formation began to occupy the attacking field.

The move yielded a tie at 20 minutes, when Matheuzinho was left in the sock and rolled for Pedro to hit a precise kick with his right foot. Flamengo’s moment was good, as they circled the Saudis’ area and had a good chance at Gerson’s header. But a move by the number 20 himself, just before the break, ended up defining the game.

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Vietto received it in the area and went to the ground, after clashing with David Luiz and Gerson. Called to the monitor by the video referee, the referee noticed Gerson stepping on the ankle of the Argentine, one of the big names in the match. The Flamengo player, who had received yellow for simulating a penalty in the attack, took the red. And Al-Dawsari, at 54, scored again.

With one less, Pereira tried to organize the Rio team by promoting the entry of midfielder Pulgar in place of the worn midfielder Arrascaeta. It was necessary to attack, and the South American champion managed to get ahead with his good technical quality –Gabigol had the opportunity to head–, but it was almost inevitable to open spaces behind.

At 25, the chances of reaction practically ended in the Ibn Batouta stadium. After Pulgar’s wrong exit, Vietto received it in the area and hit the left angle. Thus, he put Al Hilal in the World Cup final, against the winner of the duel between the Spanish Real Madrid and the Egyptian Al Ahly. Flamengo, who cashed in extra time with Pedro, will face the loser for third place.

It is much less than what the Red-Black fans expected. And less than Vítor Pereira would like, who is already under pressure after just over a month of work in Rio de Janeiro. Defeated in the Brazilian Super Cup by Palmeiras, he fell to Morocco making questionable choices, such as replacing Everton Ribeiro when the score was 2-1.

His choice to leave Corinthians at the end of 2022 was also questioned, saying repeatedly that the reason was the sick mother-in-law in Portugal. “I’m not going anywhere. I need to take care of my family”, she said, in the farewell of the alvinegro athletes. Shortly after, she signed a contract with the red and black association.

Flamengo had won the Copa do Brasil – over Pereira’s Corinthians – and the Copa Libertadores under Dorival Júnior. But he preferred to change the technical direction, betting on Portuguese. He reaped an early elimination in the World Cup, something that had only happened to Brazilians three times (Internacional, in 2010, Atlético-MG, in 2013, and Palmeiras, in 2020).

“The working time is not much, but I knew it when I accepted the challenge. The calendar already featured the Club World Cup at this point”, he declared, on the eve of the confrontation with Al Hilal.

He didn’t do well in the challenge.

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