By Robbie Blakeley, Contributing Sports Reporter
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – Boos ringed around the Engenhao Stadium on Sunday as the first Classico of the season finished 0-0 between Flamengo and Botafogo. A drab match of little action was met with derision by fans, especially the Flamenguistas, who directed their wrath at R$1,000,000 a month man Ronaldinho Gaucho. There were no wins for Carioca clubs in the national Brasileiro tournament as Vasco allowed their lead to slip against Gremio and Abel Braga oversaw his second successive defeat in charge of Fluminense against Bahia.
Ex-Botafogo striker Jobson scored a 92nd minute winner against Fluminense in the Engenhao on Saturday to give Bahia a 1-0 win and send Flu into crisis mode. Both sides had players making their debut; Ciro for Fluminense and ex-Flu player Carlos Alberto for Bahia. It was the latter who started the game stronger, beginning the match at an intense speed.
Before showcasing his talents, Ciro was in the referee’s book for controlling the ball with his arm. It was to prove a frustrating night for the Tricolor debutant as Bahia overran the middle of the park, limiting the service to the strikers.
Jobson almost gave Bahia the lead in first-half injury time. After being played through by Carlos Alberto, he just had goalkeeper Diego Cavalieri to beat, but shot straight at the keeper. He more than made up for it when a rapid counter attack found Bahia sweeping up the pitch. Avine knocked the ball to Jobson who rammed the ball above Cavalieri to leave Abel Braga with much to ponder.
A lack of concentration cost Vasco on Sunday as they drew 1-1 with Gremio in Porto Alegre. The Copa do Brasil champions played excellently and looked on for an impressive victory before conceding five minutes from time. As is happening with increasing frequency, it was Bernardo who gave Vasco the lead on 75 minutes. But there is still need for a greater understanding between midfield and attack, with a far more accurate shot conversion rate if Vasco are not to drop more points in this fashion.
Already with one title in the bag this season, Vasco continued the form that suggests they could be lifting a second national championship come December. Goalkeeper Fernando Prass drew plaudits for two excellent saves, but could do nothing about the equalizer as Roberson was left unmarked to score.
Flamengo and Botafogo left their fans irate after a 0-0 draw on Sunday. Flamengo coach Vanderlei Luxemburgo risked further ire by claiming that 0-0 was “a good result” after his side had been reduced to ten men. Bottinelli saw red in the first half after two bookable offenses. It was Flamego’s fourth successive draw, and they now find themselves a massive eight points behind league leaders São Paulo.
No one felt the anger of the Flamenguistas more than Ronaldinho. Substituted in the 89th minutes to resounding cat calls, the playmaker had barely broken into a trot, let alone a sweat.
After Bottinelli received his marching orders Botafogo began to dominate, led by Maicosuel and Elkeson. The pair linked up almost telepathically, sparking optimism for the weeks ahead that they can form a dangerous duel.
It was only the lack of a genuine striker that stopped Botafogo taking all three points. With Loco Abreu suspended, midfielder Herrera was pushed forward.
His unfamiliarity with the role was clear as opportunities to shoot went begging. With Abreu now traveling with Uruguay to the Copa America, Botafogo will need to draw on all their resources if they are to prolong their good early season form.