By Nelson Belen, Contributing Reporter
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – The 2018 Campeonato Brasileiro, Série A (Brasileirão) kicked off this weekend with mixed results for the local clubs in round one. An erroneous penalty left Flamengo short-handed early on, but the club pulled out a 2-2 draw with Vitória. Meanwhile, Vasco defeated Atlético-MG, 2-1, with two goals in the game’s final minutes, while Fluminense lost to defending Brasileirão champions, Corinthians, 2-1.
Flamengo made its 2018 Brasileirão debut at the Barradão in Salvador against Vitória. The Rubro-Negra took the lead only fifteen seconds into the game with Lucas Paquetá scoring off Vinícius Jr’s lead pass.
At the nine-minute mark, the tide quickly turned against Flamengo when Éverton Ribeiro was ejected from the game on a controversial call for hand blocking. However, replays clearly showed that the ball bounced off of Éverton’s head. With the man advantage, Vitória soon equalized when Yago beat Diego Alves to make it 1-1.
A ten-man Flamengo took the 2-1 lead with Réver scoring from close-range at the 72nd minute. But, they wouldn’t have the lead for long. At the 76-minute mark, Denílson headed home a Rhayner cross to make it 2-2, ultimately leading to a frustrating draw for both clubs.
In other action, Vasco was down 1-0 for 89 minutes of their match against Atlético-MG until Wagner equalized the game at the 90-minute mark. Moments later, at the 99th minute, Pikachu completed the remarkable comeback scoring on the penalty kick to seal the 2-1 win for Vasco.
And in Arena Corinthians, Fluminense had their hands full against the 2017 Brasileirão champion Corinthians. A brace from Rodriguinho would be too much for Flu to overcome as the club fell to the defending champs 2-1.
Rio’s other big club, the 2018 Campeonato Carioca champions, Botafogo, are set to take on Palmeiras tonight at Nilton Santos Stadium.
The Campeonato Brasileiro Série A is the top division of Brazilian football (soccer) with twenty clubs fighting it out over thirty-eight rounds. The club that finishes at the top of the table in December lifts the Série A trophy and is crowned the national champion.