By Doug Gray, Contributing Reporter
RIO DE JANEIRO – Progress of Rio’s teams in this year’s Serie A faltered once again. As a consolation, Botafogo is relieved to have won at home against Santos on Saturday. The three points lift them from the bottom four for the first time, while Flamengo suffered a 5 x 0 defeat in Coritiba to drop to 11th position. Fluminense ended a 0 x 0 home draw against Gremio, and are in 6th place.
Botafogo 2 x 0 Santos: Santos went in with confidence as leading scorers up against the league’s weakest and with the Fluminense win still fresh, but Botafogo had other ideas. The Cariocas left it late, and despite dominating the first half the scores remained level at the interval. Simoes and Tony were linking well in attack and the latter should have converted after 40 minutes, while the Santos attack was noticeable only by the absence of serious shots at goal.
It looked as though it would not be Botafogo’s night and Renan had to be sharp to keep Kleber Perreira at bay as Santos finally got in behind the defense. However moments later the game swung in Botafogo’s favor when Batista’s first-time shot found its way into the bottom corner. With fans still celebrating, a route-one ball out of defense wasn’t dealt with by Santos defender Fabao and substitute striker Laio had just the keeper to beat, which he did, to seal a 2 x 0 win.
Fluminense 0 x 0 Gremio: Both teams entered the match with high hopes to make the top four, and both could have won but for some sloppy finishing and defending. It was the visitors who dominated early on at The Maracana, their new 4-4-2 formation paying dividends with counter attacking that brought three chances in the first ten minutes. Their defense in disarray, the Fluminense midfield failed to alleviate the pressure, giving away the ball and failing to create chances at the other end, and fans booing several players.
Flu were a new team after the break, and Conca in particular rose to the occasion. Leandro Amaral, still recuperating from injury, was brought into the attack to repeat his performance of last weekend, but the two couldn’t unlock the defense.
Coritiba 5 x 0 Flamnego: An unpleasant trip to Coritiba for Flamengo on Sunday and a game that saw five goals was a fine way for the home team to seal their first win of the season. The tempo was set when Heffner brushed aside Juan and crossed into the box only to see Flamengo’s Wellington inexplicably convert into his own net, giving the home side the lead. Flamengo looked comfortable in possession though few chances came their way, and on 40 minutes a goalmouth scramble resulted in a shot from Marcos Aurelio that goalkeeper Bruno let straight through his legs, with 2 x 0 at the break.
The picture darkened further for the Cariocas in the second half, their defense looking for an offside and leaving Bruno Batata alone to guide the ball into the corner. By now Flamengo were in disarray, and a clearance header let in Renatinho whose shot could only be defected by Bruno into the path of Bruno Batata who found the net – 4 x 0. It is a rare occasion for Flamengo to look so poor, and the ‘goaleada’ was complete with 15 minutes left when their goalkeeper failed to deal with a shot, palming the ball to Leozinho who tapped in to seal the win.
Next Saturday sees Fluminense in Florianopolis against Avai and Botafogo in Salvador facing Vitoria in round seven, while Flamengo entertains Internacional – one of only two sides unbeaten this season – at The Maracana.