The Canadian Press - ONLINE EDITION
Palmeiras, Brazil's most successful team, secures return to 1st division
SAO PAULO - Palmeiras, the club with the most Brazilian titles, secured its return to the first division of the Brazilian league from a 0-0 draw with Sao Caetano on Saturday.
The draw in front of more than 35,000 fans at Pacaembu Stadium was enough to guarantee promotion with six rounds left. The eight-time national champion has nine more points than second-place Chapecoense and 19 more than fifth-place Icasa. The top four teams in the 20-team standings are promoted.
Palmeiras played with a yellow jersey instead of its traditional green to honour the 1965 squad that represented Brazil in a friendly against Uruguay. Palmeiras also wore Brazil's blue trousers instead of the white it usually wears.
With its entire squad made of Palmeiras players, Brazil beat Uruguay 3-0. Many of the players from that friendly were honoured before kickoff at the Pacaembu on Saturday.
Palmeiras had a penalty called in its favour just before halftime, but the referee eventually reversed his call after discussing the play with the linesman, who said striker Alan Kardec dived during a challenge by the Sao Caetano goalkeeper in front of the goal.
This year's team is led by Chile midfielder Jorge Valdivia. It also has Paraguayan midfielder William Mendieta and Uruguayan defensive midfielder Sebastian Eguren. The defence is led by former Barcelona central back Henrique, who has been summoned for Brazil recently.
"It was tough from the beginning, but we made the second division look easy," said Valdivia, the team's star.
Palmeiras has won 21 of its 32 matches so far, drawing six and losing five. It has a goal differential of plus 36, by far the best in the league. It can clinch the title in the next few rounds.
The fourth most-popular club in Brazil, Palmeiras was relegated last year with a team that was in part coached by current Brazil manager Luiz Felipe Scolari.
Scolari led Palmeiras to the 2012 Brazilian Cup title, the team's first major trophy since the 1999 Copa Libertadores, but the club struggled afterwards and the coach was fired before it was relegated.
With the focus on the Brazilian Cup, the coach rested most of Palmeiras* regular starters in the beginning of the Brazilian league. The club's first win came only in the seventh round and it never recovered. At one point, players had to hire security guards to protect them from upset fans who even made death threats to some players.
Palmeiras played in the second division for the first time in 2003, returning to play in the top flight the following year.
In addition to the eight Brazilian league titles, the most along with Santos, Palmeiras has also won two Brazilian Cups and a Champions Cup.
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