By Robbie Blakeley, Contributing Reporter
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – Flamengo will meet Boavista in the final of the Taça Guanabara after two penalty shoot-outs over the weekend. On Saturday, Fluminense drew 2-2 with Carioca minnows Boavista, only to lose 4-2 on penalties. On Sunday, Rio giants Flamengo also drew a stalemate with last year’s champion Botafogo, and prevailed 3-1 on penalties.
Flamengo eliminated Botafogo by the skin of their teeth after a narrow game ended 1-1. Three missed penalties cost Botafogo their place in the final of the Taca Guanabara. Flamengo goalkeeper Felipe, recently recruited from Portuguese outfit Braga, was the hero of the day, saving two penalties as Botafogo saw their valiant efforts dashed.
The Rubro Negro took the lead in the fourteenth minute, Ronaldo Angelim heading home Thiago Neves’ in-swinging corner. After Flamengo’s opener, both sides pressed, Botafogo looking to level the match and Flamengo trying to double their lead.
After the first half, Uruguayan legend Loco Abreu brought the scores level with a clinically taken effort five minutes into the second half. Collecting the ball from Alessandro, the veteran turned the defense expertly to fire home with his right boot.
With the remaining 40 minutes played without another goal, it was left to spot kicks to decide the winner. Flamengo did not miss a single penalty, whilst Everton, Renato Caja and Somalia missed for Botafogo, sending them out of this stage of the Campeonato Carioca. Ronaldinho, due to take his side’s fifth kick, was not needed.
Fluminense’s slip up meant that one of Rio’s smaller teams will get the chance to fight for the state’s championship. On Saturday evening at the Engenhao, Boavista eliminated Fluminense after matching them for the entirety on the pitch.
The side from Saquarema demonstrated their bravery by attacking Flu from the off, refusing to sit back and invite attack.
After coming back from knee surgery, Fluminense’s player of the year for 2010, Conca, looked off the pace, unable to contribute to any attack his side managed to muster.
Despite Conca’s lack of energy, the national champions managed to take the lead twice, only for inexcusable defending to allow Boavista back into the tie. In the seventh minute, holding midfielder Marquinho curled in a magnificent free kick after Rafael Moura had been tripped.
But it took Boavista just four minutes to level things, Tony finishing off a clinical attack. For the remainder of the first half, Fluminense dominated proceedings, controlling the midfield and breaking at will. In the 37th minute, Flu’s control paid off after Rafael Moura steered a ball into the penalty area for Fred to casually nod home.
Flu went in a goal up at the break, but Fred’s failure to appear for the second half was telling. When Boavista equalized after 55 minutes courtesy of Andre Luis, the favorites had no reply and the pot luck of 4-2 on penalties was to prove their downfall.
The Taça Guanabara final will be played on Sunday, February 27th at 4PM.