By Robbie Blakeley, Senior Contributing Reporter
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – Flamengo have one foot in the final of the Copa do Brasil after winning the first leg of their semi-final against Goiás 2-1 last night. Playmaker Paulinho was the best player on the night as the Rubro-Negro soaked up huge amounts of pressure during the second half to cling on to a precious advantage.
Goiás were missing star striker Walter and his absence was particularly telling as the game progressed. The home side continually threatened but lacked a killer instinct to draw level.
Goiás had fourteen shots to Flamengo’s five yet will arrive at the Maracanã for the return leg with a 2-1 deficit. Crucially for Fla, they scored two goals away from home, which could become crucial if the aggregate score is tied after 180 minutes.
However, midfielder Elias confirmed Fla still have a lot to do. “The result is important but nothing is decided. We are going to have an advantage in front of our fans, and when they give support to the team we are almost unbeatable,” he said at the final whistle.
Close to 40,000 were inside the Serra Dourada stadium in Goiânia to see the match. Nevertheless, it was Flamengo who started the better team and looked like the home side, playing calm and precise football as they probed the Goiás defense.
Paulinho gave Flamengo a deserved lead on 25 minutes when he beat two defenders and slotted the ball past the outcoming Renan. An excellent cross-shot from Victor brought the scores level on 38 minutes but Fla didn’t have to wait long to get their noses in front again.
Just two minutes later, Flamengo were awarded a free-kick on the outskirts of the penalty area. Defender Chicão stepped up and lashed an effort into the left-hand corner of the net.
Goiás cranked up the pressure at the interval but Flamengo’s defense was admirably stable throughout the second half. Now they need to complete the job at the Maracanã next week.
Read more (in Portuguese).
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