By Robbie Blakeley, Senior Contributing Reporter
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – Botafogo beat Coritiba 1-0 last night in the the eleventh round of the 2014 Campeonato Brasileiro to put some breathing space between themselves and the relegation zone. An early strike from Argentine midfielder Bolatti was enough to give the Glorioso the points in a game that was low on quality but high on pressure.
Botafogo were without right-back Edílson and forward Emerson Sheik on a night when former hat-trick hero Wallyson was roundly booed by the Botafogo faithful. But coach Vagner Mancini’s offensive ploy paid off as the Alvinegro opened up a five point gap over the Z-4, the dreaded relegation zone.
It was far from a perfect night for Botafogo, with forward Zeballos missing a penalty, but after a poor run of form and a plethora of off the field problems, three points came as a welcome relief. Captain and goalkeeper Jefferson put in a magnificent second half performance to defend the team’s slender lead.
The game’s only goal had come after just eleven minutes. Bolatti slipped free of Chico’s slack marking to convert Wallyson’s corner. Despite having four attack-minded players on the pitch the club’s recent woes seemed to weigh on the players.
Suddenly with a lead to defend, they began to sit back far too much, inviting pressure from the visitors whilst trying to hit on the counter-attack. Only the heroics of their No. 1 kept the scoreline at 1-0.
Botafogo were indeed fortunate that Coritiba’s principal weapon, veteran playmaker Alex, had an off night and only threatened in dead ball situations. Striker Robinho had only one clear cut chance and blazed wide for the visitors. Botafogo had kept the points safe.
This afternoon, Flamengo travel to Porto Alegre to face Internacional, where another defeat could spell the end for coach Ney Franco, with Tite being lined up as a possible replacement. Fluminense host Santos at the Estádio Raulino de Oliveira in Volta Redonda, with new signing cícero facing his former club in his second outing for the Laranjeiras outfit.
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