By Robbie Blakeley, Senior Contributing Reporter
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – Botafogo beat Atlético-MG 1-0 at the Maracanã last night as they kept their chase for Copa Libertadores qualification on track. Julio Cesar’s close range strike early in the second half was enough to take all three points as the Glorioso regrouped after suffering a 4-0 humiliation last week to Flamengo.
Just 10,000 fans were inside the stadium as the club’s season threatened to derail. However, Clarence Seedorf told the press after the game that the players have the stomach to keep fighting for every point.
“This group knows how to overcome difficulties. Everyone falls and it is necessary to know how to get up again. We are united and each player has to be aware of what he needs to do to help the group,” the veteran player said.
The first half was edged by the visitors, Atlético going close to opening the scoring first through Fernandinho and then Diego Tardelli. At the beginning of the second half, Botafogo coach Oswaldo de Oliveira made a change, bringing on Sassá for the disappointing and ineffectual Alex.
On 51 minutes the game’s only goal arrived. Midfielder Gabriel, who was Botafogo’s best player by a mile last night, fed Júlio César who beat Victor at the second attempt. The goal came against the run of play but that mattered little to Botafogo.
Atlético were more threatening throughout the game but after a difficult few weeks, Botafogo ground out a much needed victory. The fans still dream of an unlikely title but Libertadores qualification is certainly within their grasp.
Read more (in Portuguese).
* The Rio Times Daily Updates feature is offered to help keep you up-to-date with important news as it happens.