By Robbie Blakeley, Senior Contributing Reporter
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – Criciúma and Botafogo converted a penalty apiece to draw 1-1 last night in the 23rd round of the 2014 Campeonato Brasileiro. Following a run of four successive defeats, the Cariocas had Seleção goalkeeper Jefferson to thank for not succumbing to a fifth loss in a row.
The point Botafogo took away from Santa Catarina has temporarily lifted the club to fifteenth in the table. Although, if results go against them this afternoon, they could find themselves back in the relegation zone by the end of the round.
In truth, Criciúma dominated the majority of the match and only had their own profligacy in front of goal to blame for not taking all three points. The hosts missed two excellent chances to win the game and were forced to settle for a point.
From the off, Botafogo looked to block out their hosts and hit on the counter attack, through forwards Rogério or Wallyson. But they were often left chasing shadows as Criciúma enjoyed seventy percent ball possession.
Their biggest chance of the first half came on 27 minutes, when Lucca headed against the crossbar. Against the run of play, Botafogo went ahead when Wallyson was fouled inside the penalty area by João Vitor, and Zeballos converted the resulting spot-kick.
Criciúma started the second half just as they had the first. Less than a minute after the interval, Jefferson proved his Seleção credentials with a fantastic stop from Silvinho. Veteran playmaker Paulo Baier came on for the hosts and instantly gave them more creativity in the midfield.
The pressure on Botafogo’s slender lead grew ever more intense. On 68 minutes, Criciúma were awarded a penalty after Lucca had been fouled by Bolatti. Baier himself stepped up to level the scores. Four minutes later, Baier thought he had put his side ahead but the goal was ruled out for offside. Botafogo hung on by the skin of their teeth.
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