By Jayme Monsanto, Senior Reporter
RIO DE JANEIRO – Eight more Campeonato Carioca matches happened this weekend, completing the fifth round of Taça Guanabara. The round saw this year’s first FlaFlu, a classic match-up between rivals Flamengo and Fluminense.
The FlaFlu happened on Sunday night at a crowded Maracanã Stadium and gave justice to the legend that surrounds it.
Fluminense’s key player Fred couldn’t play because he suffered a calf injury in training during the week. Flamengo, on the other hand, entered the match with full power due to their new offensive duo Adriano and Vagner Love in top shape.
In spite of that, it was Fluminense who dominated the match during the first half. The ball never reached the Flamengo strikers, and Fluminense was putting on a lot of pressure. Finally, in the fourteenth minute, they scored, with a goal by Alan. In the 40th minute, Conca increased the lead for Fluminense, with a penalty kick making it 2-0.
Two minutes later, another penalty kick, this time in favor of Flamengo. Adriano did score, but Flamengo didn’t have time to react, as only three minutes later, Fluminense scored, with a goal by Cassio. By halftime the score was 3-1, and it seemed like Flamengo had no chance.
At halftime, coach Andrade made some lineup changes in Flamengo that turned the tide of the match. Petkovic and Fernando gave place to Vinícius Pacheco and Willians, and Flamengo became quicker and more offensive.
After these substitutions, the ball reached the Flamengo strikers more often, and they didn’t miss their chances: Vagner Love scored in the seventh minute, Kleberson found the equalizer in the following minute, and Adriano, in an inspired evening, scored two more goals, in the 37th and 44th minutes.
Striker Adriano is internationally known as Imperador, having earned this nickname playing in Italy in the early 00’s. Some witty Flamengo fans created a nickname for their new offensive duo: “Império do Amor” – Empire of Love. With this victory, Flamengo is now leader of Group A, with fifteen points.
Botafogo played on Saturday, against América at the Engenhão Stadium. The match saw the debut of their new coach, Joel Santana.
After the humiliating 6-0 defeat Botafogo suffered against Vasco last week, coach Estevam Soares was sacked and replaced by Joel, whose last work was coaching the South Africa national team.
The match ended with a 2-1 victory by Botafogo, but it wasn’t easy. The team from General Severiano put on a mediocre performance and América was better in the first half, opening up the score at the 23rd minute, when Adriano finished a successful header.
Also with a header, “El Loco” Abreu scored his first goal with the Botafogo uniform, in the 35th minute, tying the match. In the second half both teams tried hard, and the match was balanced, but Botafogo persevered, and in the 42nd minute Caio scored. Botafogo are in second place of Group B, tied with Madureira. Both of them have twelve points.
Vasco da Gama’s match against Friburguense was on Sunday. The game was held at the Raulino de Oliveira Stadium, in Volta Redonda. The Carioca team had no trouble defeating its opponent by 3-0, with three goals scored by striker Dodô.
Since he scored another three last week in the victory against Botafogo, Dodô is now one of the competition’s top scorers along with Marcelo Ramos of Madureira, both of them with six goals. It was Vasco’s fifth consecutive victory in five matches, and the team leads group B, with fifteen points.
There are only two more rounds to go before the semifinals. Round Six happens during the week, with matches on Wednesday and Thursday, while Round Seven happens on Sunday, with eight simultaneous matches at 5PM.
After these games, the two teams that accumulate the most points in each group advance to the semifinals.