By Jayme Monsanto, Senior Contributing Reporter
RIO DE JANEIRO – In a particularly inspired mood, Flamengo goalkeeper Bruno saved two penalty kicks from the feet of veteran striker Dodô and helped assure the famous red and black’s a victory at the Maracanã Stadium on Sunday. The infamous Adriano was also awarded the responsibility of a penalty in a rough game and, in contrast to Dodô, made no mistake, his goal enough to guarantee victory.
The match started at 7:30PM under heavy rain. Even though the Maracanã field was full of puddles the two sides persevered, creating several great opportunities. After a well-balanced opening, in the 35th minute Vasco’s Phillipe Coutinho was fouled by Flamengo’s Williams inside the box and the referee signalled a penalty kick. Striker Dodô’s effort was weak, however, and Bruno easily saved to keep the score goalless at half time.
In the fourth minute of the second half the referee was called upon to award another penalty kick, this time to Flamengo. Adriano stepped up to take it, and made no mistake with his effort and sending the soaking fans wild.
Six minutes later yet another penalty kick was awarded by Péricles Bassols, this time for a handball by Flamengo defender Alvaro. It was Vasco’s chance to tie the match, and Dodô asked coach Vagner Mancini to let him make amends for the earlier miss. Mancini gave him his chance, but Dodô failed to convert once again. Having been their hero in recent months, the striker felt the wrath of his fans for the remainder of the game whilst victory means that Flamengo still leads Group A with four victories from four matches.
Earlier on Sunday, Botafogo beat Olaria at their Engenhão Stadium 2-0. The goals were scored in the nineteenth and fiftieth minutes by Antônio Carlos and Gabriel respectively, and the result came in spite of a heavy downpour at half time which caused considerable water-logging of the pitch and eventually a power cut. During the twenty-minute delay nerves clearly became frayed, and after the restart Botafogo striker “El Loco” Abreu and Olaria defender Diego were both sent off for fighting.
Botafogo now leads Group B with nine points, the same number as Vasco da Gama who are behind on goal difference.
On Saturday Fluminense tied 1-1 with América. The match also took place at an altogether drier Engenhão Stadium, but without three of their key players: Conca, Diguinho and Júlio Cesar, Fluminense struggled to a draw.
Diguinho did however open the scoring in the 36th minute, but América found the equalizer just eleven minutes later, with a goal by Junior. Both teams had several golden opportunities to win the game, but none of them ever found the net, and the match ended in a tie.
The fifth round of Taça Rio takes place next weekend. On Saturday, Vasco plays Olaria at 7:30PM, while Fluminense takes on Resende on Sunday, at 5PM. Flamengo will play its second Taça Rio classico in a row when on Sunday the team meets Botafogo at 7:30 PM.
Before that, however, the Big Four have other crucial matches ahead of them. On Wednesday, Flamengo plays Universidad de Chile for the fifth round of Libertadores das Américas in Santiago, Chile. That same day, Vasco meets ASA, Botafogo plays Santa Cruz and Fluminense takes on Uberaba in the Copa do Brasil.