By Robbie Blakeley, Senior Contributing Reporter
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – Rio clubs Flamengo and Botafogo kicked off their 2014 Campeonato Brasileiro campaigns yesterday afternoon. However, there was little good news for either side, with Flamengo being held to a goalless draw by Goiás and Botafogo suffering a humiliating defeat at the hands of São Paulo.
An inspired performance from Goiás goalkeeper Renan kept Flamengo at bay as the two sides drew 0-0 at the Estádio Mané Garrincha in Brasília. The stopper made a string of top saves to secure a point for his side, who came into the game in the late stages and could even have snatched victory at the death.
In front of a disappointing crowd of less than 20,000, Fla had the better of the first half, Alecsandro spurning the best opportunity they could create. While technical quality remained low on the ground throughout, Goiás grew in confidence during the second half.
Flamengo began to run out of steam and ideas and looked to have settled for a point long before the final whistle. It was a sobering experience following their Carioca triumph and points to a challenging few months ahead.
Things were even worse for Botafogo, the team losing 3-0 to São Paulo at the Morumbi. The game was barely a contest, with the hosts’ attacking trio of Ganso, Alexandre Pato and Luís Fabiano reaping rich reward for the Paulistas.
If early signs are to go by São Paulo could well challenge for the title come the end of the year. Botafogo, meanwhile, need time to adjust to new coach Vagner Mancini’s ideas and tactical approach. Antônio Carlos put São Paulo ahead after twelve minutes and the side never looked back. With just twenty minutes on the clock, they were two goals to the good.
Pato’s pass found Douglas and the midfielder struck past Jefferson. Ten minutes after the interval some wonderful link-up play from the front three killed the game. Pato was again involved, releasing Ganso. The playmaker unselfishly squared for Luís Fabiano who put the match to bed as a contest.
Campeonato Brasileiro First Round Results:
Fluminense 3-0 Figueirense
Internacional 1-0 Vitoria
Chapecoense 0-0 Coritiba
São Paulo 3-0 Botafogo
Atlético-PR 1-0 Grêmio
Atlético-MG 0-0 Corinthians
Bahia 1-2 Cruzeiro
Flamengo 0-0 Goiás
Santos 1-1 Sport Recife
Criciúma 1-2 Palmeiras
Read more (in Portuguese).
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