By Robbie Blakeley, Senior Contributing Reporter
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – Flamengo drew 1-1 with Cruzeiro last night in the final round of the 2013 Campeonato Brasileiro at the Maracanã Stadium. The Rubro-Negro were particularly grateful to young goalkeeper Cesar, who made a succession of important saves to keep Mengão’s point in tact.
Over 40,000 Flamenguistas attended their side’s final game of a turbulent season, which was buoyed by the club’s third Copa do Brasil title ten days ago. Now the fans are looking forward to next year and their Copa Libertadores campaign.
Flamengo started the game on the front foot and opened the scoring after thirteen minutes. Hernane converted Nixon’s cross to net his sixteenth goal of an impressive Brasileirão campaign, and 35th strike in all competitions this year.
Yet the side’s creativity was affected enormously when playmaker Paulinho left the field just eight minutes later through injury. From then on Cruzeiro dominated in midfield and created the more dangerous chances.
Both sides were reduced to ten men on 38 minutes when the referee dismissed Cruzeiro’s Everton and Flamengo’s Carlos Eduardo for an altercation seemingly started by the Carioca player. Cruzeiro went close to an equalizer through Mayke but the first half ended with Fla clinging onto their slender advantage.
The visitors started the second half as they ended the first, forcing Flamengo to camp in their own half. The inevitable leveler came on 64 minutes, when the 21-year-old Cesar was finally beaten by a long range effort from Souza.
Cruzeiro continued to press but the game ended with honors even. Now both clubs will look to strengthen squads over the summer break before launching their Copa Libertadores campaigns early in the new year.
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