By Robbie Blakeley, Senior Contributing Reporter
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – Flamengo’s run of five straight wins in the Campeonato Brasileiro came to an abrupt end last night after a 1-0 defeat to Grêmio at the Maracanã. The visitors were the better side, especially in the second half, and snatched the points courtesy of a wonderful goal from Luan in the 91st minute.
Following the Rubro-Negro’s excellent recent form, not to mention their heroic comeback in the Copa do Brasil against Coritiba in midweek, almost 60,000 were inside the stadium for yesterday’s contest. The atmosphere was electric and the match hard fought, despite a below-par performance from the home side.
For Luiz Felipe Scolari, who was appointed Grêmio coach following his resignation from the Brazilian national side, it was a first victory away from home. The Gaúcho club can plausibly harbor hopes of qualifying for next year’s Copa Libertadores.
Grêmio were slightly more aggressive than their hosts in the opening 45 minutes, and Flamengo once again had Paulo Victor to thank for keeping the scores level. The goalkeeper made a smart reaction save after initially exiting his goalmouth too early.
Fellipe Bastos went close twice for Grêmio before a deft touch from Giuliano almost gave them the lead on 37 minutes. Meanwhile, Flamengo’s playmaker Lucas Mugni found little inspiration, and as a result there was little for the Fla attack to work with.
Sensing the game was there for the taking, Grêmio came out for the second half playing at a much faster tempo. Flamengo coach Vanderlei Luxemburgo sent on Eduardo da Silva, but it was his striker partner Alecsandro who went closest to breaking the deadlock with a glancing header.
As the clock wore down Felipão sent on Fernandinho and Luan for Grêmio. It turned out to be an inspired move. On 91 minutes, Fernandinho’s jinking run and sharp pass found Luan, who in turn evaded two defenders before slotting the ball past a stranded Paulo Victor. It was a deserved victory for the visitors.
Read more (in Portuguese).
* The Rio Times Daily Updates feature is offered to help keep you up-to-date with important news as it happens.