By Robbie Blakeley, Senior Contributing Reporter
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – Flamengo beat Nova Iguaçu 2-1 yesterday to qualify for the semi-finals of the 2014 Campeonato Carioca. The Rubro-Negro were a long way below par but an own goal and a Hernane strike guaranteed their place in the knock-out phase of the state championship.
It was the club’s ninth win from eleven games, and the club stand top of the table with 28 points. But Nova Iguaçu made them work for the three points yesterday.
The minnows were well drilled and passed the ball, particularly in their own half, quickly and accurately. Still they fell behind on 17 minutes when Jorge Felipe put the ball through his own net.
Diguinho almost equalized but Felipe made a smart save to preserve Flamengo’s slender advantage. But the first half wilted and neither side looked convincing as the half-time whistle blew.
It took Flamengo just ten minutes of the second half to double their advantage, but only after Diguinho had missed an excellent chance to level for Nova Iguaçu. Hernane, buoyed after deciding to reject the advances of Chinese club Shanghai Shenhua, found the net to put Fla out of sight.
Erick Foca pulled one back for the visitors but there was to be no heroic comeback. Flamengo absorbed the pressure and safely progressed to the semi-finals.
Meanwhile, Botafogo suffered a shock 2-0 loss to Macaé. The defeat leaves the Alvinegro in six points off a semi-final spot with four rounds to play.
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