By Robbie Blakeley, Senior Contributing Reporter
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – Flamengo thrashed Cabofriense 3-0 last night in the Campeonato Carioca semi-final first leg at the Maracanã Stadium. The result all but guaranteed their safe passage to the final after a strong performance, despite the fans turning on No. 9 Hernane during a barren spell of games for the striker.
The two teams met last weekend in the final round of the group stage of the state tournament, with Flamengo emerging 5-3 winners. There were similarly no problems yesterday either as Fla look in good shape to lift the first trophy of the year.
Goals from Everton, Paulinho and Alecsandro sealed victory on a straightforward evening. Cabofriense started the match looking to soak up pressure and break on the counter, but their plans were thwarted after only seventeen minutes.
Hernane’s header hit the post and Everton turned in the rebound to put Mengo in front. Cabofriense fought back and Fla keeper Felipe was forced into a smart save just before the half-hour mark.
Five minutes before the interval, he pulled off an even better stop to keep out Jardel’s effort. Luiz Antônio responded by rattling the crossbar for Flamengo but the Rubro-Negro could only go in one goal to the good at the break. Five minutes after the restart Flamengo doubled their lead. Digão brought the ball forward before passing to Hernane, who in turn left the ball to Paulinho to control and shoot beyond Cetin in the Cabofriense goal.
From then on, Fla looked comfortable and their opponents struggled to create goal-scoring opportunities. On 73 minutes, Alecsandro netted the third with his first touch after coming on, wrapping up the game. Tonight, Fluminense and Vasco meet in the other semi-final first leg, also at the Maracanã. Return ties will be played this weekend.
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