By Lisa Flueckiger, Contributing Reporter
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – Penalties decided both second legs of the Rio state football (soccer) championship, the Campeonato Carioca, this weekend. While Botafogo disputed a thriller shootout against Fluminense, which the alvinegro won after eleven penalties with 9-8, Vasco scored from the spot in regular time to win 1-0 over Flamengo.
The second leg between Botafogo and Fluminense that had been transferred to Fogo home ground newly named Nilton Santos stadium, known as Engenhão, promised to be an exciting match from the start. Fluminense had won the first leg with 2-1, so Botafogo needed at least two goals to reach the final.
The heated game recorded the first injury and substitution after only a few minutes, when Fogo’s Elvis had to leave the field. But the early change didn’t prevent the alvinegro to press forward and score the first goal after only five minutes, when Fernandes found the net.
Bill raised the score to 2-0 after 22 minutes of play, while Botafogo generally dominated the game. Yet, shortly before the half-time whistle Fogo goal keeper Renan brought down Kenedy, who converted the given penalty himself to reach 2-1.
The second time remained goalless, so the equal scoring from both legs meant that both teams went directly to the penalty shootout. It needed eleven penalties on each side and therefore a penalty kick duel between the two goal keepers with the last ball. Botafogo’s Renan kept the cooler nerves and netted the ball, while Flu’s Cavalieri kicked the ball wide into the audience, meaning the qualification for the alvinegro.
Flamengo and Vasco disputed the second leg of their semifinals at the Maracanã on Sunday, April 19th after the first encounter had remained goalless. The advantage lay with Flamengo, as the rubro-negro had been second placed in the group phase and would therefore qualify for the final in case of two draws.
The first half of the game remained without goals again, with an equal number of shots with five on each side. At the beginning of the second half Vasco almost scored with the ball only hitting the goal line, but not fully entering.
Then, after sixty minutes the referee decided the game when he gave a controversial penalty to Vasco after Serginho fell in the area and he didn’t book Gilberto, who already had a yellow card, when he climbed up to the fans after he had converted the penalty kick.
It remained 1-0 for Vasco with the cruz-maltinos qualifying for the final game. The final will also be disputed in two legs, both set to take place at the Maracanã. The first game will take place on Sunday, April 26th and the second one on Sunday, May 3rd.
For the final two games, Botafogo has the advantage of taking the championship in case of two draws, as they were first-placed after the group phase.