By Robbie Blakeley, Senior Contributing Reporter
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – The Copa do Brasil dreams of Flamengo and Botafogo were left hanging by a thread following disastrous defeats last night. Flamengo were comprehensively dispatched by Brasileirão strugglers Coritiba, while Botafogo lost at home to Série B club Ceará.
A second half onslaught helped Coritiba to a 3-0 win over defending champions Flamengo. The home side were better throughout and have put one foot in the quarter-finals after a commanding performance.
Fla coach Vanderlei Luxemburgo, riding high on four successive victories in the league, gambled on a mixed team in the knock-out competition. But his experiment of playing a back three backfired horribly, with Coritiba exploiting their deficiencies in ruthless fashion.
The home side scored three goals in the final half hour, from Leandro Almeida, a Luiz Antonio own goal and a final strike from Zé Eduardo right at the death. Fla have been left with a mountain to climb in the return leg, next Wednesday.
There was also an off night at the Maracanã Stadium, as Botafogo were shocked 2-1 by second division Ceará. While the Cariocas put out a full strength team, it was the visitors who rested players yet still endeavored to walk away with an advantage before next week’s second leg in Fortaleza.
Eduardo opened the scoring for Ceará after fifteen minutes. He met Helder’s cross from the left, and Botafogo goalkeeper Jefferson made two magnificent saves before he was finally beaten.
Right at the end of the first half the visitors doubled their advantage. Helder, again down the left flank, was given enough time and space to send in a deep cross, and Bill emerged unmarked at the far post to convert the chance.
Edílson pulled one back for Fogo twelve minutes from time but it was a terrible night for the Rio club. Rogério will be missing for the return tie after being sent off yesterday evening.
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