By Doug Gray, Contributing Reporter
RIO DE JANEIRO – Flamengo were clearly not prepared to do their ailing rivals any favors on Sunday night as they disposed of Fluminense 2 x 0 with another masterful display from Adriano. A record crowd packed into the Maracanã to see Flamengo reaffirm their designs on a top-four finish, while Fluminense are surely now condemned to Serie B football next year as time runs out on their escape plan.
The same afternoon, Botafogo climbed one place nearer safety with a fine win away at Goiás. This leaves them level on points with Santo André, who are just out of the relegation zone.
Flamengo 2 x 0 Fluminense
With ticket prices cut in a bid to outdo Vasco da Gama’s previous record attendance, this season around 82,000 fans crammed into the Maracanã but would have been left disappointed by an uninspired first forty-five minutes of football. Rafael had to be alert in the Flu goal on a slippery surface, but it was at the other end that his side had the best chance of the half, a low cross skidding in front of Flamengo’s goal, but Alan blasted his effort over the bar from four yards out. Bruno then did well to keep out Adeilson after he had beaten the last defender, diving at the feet of the Flu midfielder before he got his shot away.
The second half started in lively fashion, and it was Flamengo who made their mark. First Adriano was denied by a stunning Rafael save, then Fluminense lost the ball inexcusably in the midfield, and Zé Roberto released Adriano, who held off two defenders before firing in a low shot to make it 1 x 0. A Conca free kick followed, drilled straight at Bruno, and moments later, Adriano again ravished the Tricolor defense, taking one touch to control a fine long pass and slotting easily beyond Rafael. From there on the result was never in any doubt, and the rubro-negro (ruby-black)party continued long after the final whistle.
Goiás 1 x 3 Botafogo
The form book suggested Botafogo didn’t stand a chance against second place Goiás, but André Lima and Victor Simões again combined well to grab a stunning victory that could still save their top-flight status next season. They were joined by Reinaldo in an attacking starting line up, but the first half was without goals despite the home side’s early dominance, and Iarley should have done better on twenty-five minutes as he deflected a cross from the left, but couldn’t beat Jefferson in goal. In a half littered with bookings, Goiás left the field with ten men as João Paulo was dismissed for two cautions shortly before the break, and Botafogo seized the initiative.
Within five minutes of the restart, the alvinegro were ahead, leaving the home fans stunned. Jobson picked up the ball in space on the edge of the area and instinctively fired in a low drive to give the visitors the lead. Victor Simões and André Lima both struck within minutes of each other to make it 0 x 3 and put the game beyond any doubt with just wenty minutes played of the second half, though Goiás managed to grab a consolation goal deep into injury time of an action packed final quarter of an hour.
The 28th round will see Fluminense taking on Corinthians at the Maracanã on Wednesday night, hoping that Ronaldo will not torment them as he did in the away fixture. Flamengo travel to Bahía to take on Vitória, and Botafogo host Atlético-MG on Thursday evening.