By Robbie Blakeley, Senior Contributing Reporter
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – The first Carioca Taça Guanabara classico of 2012 ended goalless on Sunday evening as Botafogo and Flamengo clashed at the Engenhão in a result that saw both sides leave the qualification places at the top of Group A. Botafogo have now gone three games without a win, whilst the Rubro-Negro remain in limbo after the exit of Vanerlei Luxemburgo; however the announcement of Joel Santana, who will return for his fifth reign at the club, is imminent.
Botafogo, led by Andrezinho who smashed an early volley against the upright, started the game the stronger side but faded in the second period. But their number ten outshone Flamengo’s by a country mile.
Ronaldinho was at times anonymous and at others appeared even careless, showing the first touch out of form. Andrezinho was central to all Botafogo created – all that was missing was the vital final touch.
With barely more than a minute on the clock, Maicosuel surged down the right for Fogão before finding Andrezinho on the edge of the penalty area. The new arrival lashed a volley goal-wards, beating Felipe but not the crossbar.
Flamengo took their time in responding before Bottinelli stung Jefferson into action with a close range header that the keeper managed to palm away. But nothing could put Botafogo off their rhythm as they ruthlessly took charge.
They looked far more solid in defense and the exchange between the front four was well paced and slick. With each build-up play the fans’ expectation grew and when Andrezinho stood over a free-kick twenty yards out they waited with baited breath.
The playmaker curled a wicked effort over the wall and hit the woodwork for the second time. As the whistle blew for the interval, Flamengo were hanging on by their coattails.
Mengão reshuffled and returned for the second half reinvigorated as they went in search of the opener. And it almost arrived when Renato’s vicious volley crashed against the bar with Jefferson scrambling – it was the third time in the match the bar had been struck.
But Botafogo lost none of their own attacking impetus with Loco Abreu missing the best chance of the match. Elkeson’s looping header was pushed into the path of the Uruguayan international, who only had to tap the ball home. Incredibly, from all of four yards, he shot wide.
As both sides went in search of a winner, the game opened further. Bottinelli shot straight at Jefferson, whilst Abreu wasted another chance for the Alvinegro.
Botafogo began to dominate after Willians was dismissed for Flamengo but still failed to find the breakthrough to put them in the top two of Group A. It proved a frustrating night for both sets of fans.
On Wednesday, Botafogo face Olaria in a game of increasing importance after three straight draws. The following day, Joel Santana will take charge of his first Flamengo match against Madureira. The Rubro-Negro have gone three games without finding the back of the net.
Rounds three and four Taça Guanabara Results:
Macaé 3-0 Resende
Maduraira 2-2 Botafogo
Bonsucesso 0-0 Nova Iguaçu
Flamengo 0-0 Olaria
Bangu 1-3 Vasco
Friburguense 0-0 Duque de Caxias
Fluminense 1-2 Boavista
Volta Redonda 2-0 Americano
Olaria 2-0 Madureira
Resende 1-0 Bonsucesso
Nova Iguaçu 2-0 Macaé
Botafogo 0-0 Flamengo
Fluminense 1-1 Duque de Caxias
Vasco 2-0 Friburguense
Americano 2-1 Bangu
Boavista 1-1 Volta Redonda