By Robbie Blakeley, Contributing Sports Reporter
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – Flamengo remain in the title hunt after rounds twelve and thirteen of the 2011 Brasileirão, on the back of a game which could go down as one of the most dramatic in football history. Last Wednesday, the 27th of July, the Rubro Negro traveled to Santos, emerging victorious in a nail-biting 5-4 win that has since made headlines in England, Spain, Italy and Portugal.
Elsewhere, Botafogo scraped past Avai 2-1, while Vasco only managed a 1-1 draw at home to Bahia, and Fluminense lost away yet again, 1-0 to Atlético-MG.
Santos verses Flamengo had been given plenty of hype prior to the contest; master against student (Ronaldinho vs Neymar); the current South American continental champions, Santos, against Brazil’s 2009 National Champions, Flamengo. It was also a duel between the Brasilerão’s two most successful coaches of all time – Flamengo coach Vanderlei Luxemburgo has five titles to his name, while Muricy Ramalho has four, his most recent coming last year with Fluminense.
The home side appeared to put themselves out of sight after racing into a three-goal lead with two from Borges and one of the goals of the season from an inspired Neymar. The teenage sensation left four Flamengo players in his wake as he surged towards goal before calmly lifting the ball over Felipe.
As thrilling as Santos’ attack was, their defending was threadbare. A blunder from goalkeeper Rafael allowed Ronaldinho to tap in a low cross before Thiago Neves rose to head in unmarked to make it 3-2.
Flamengo continued their good form on Saturday with a comfortable 2-0 win over Gremio at the Engenhão. Thiago Neves and Ronaldinho scored a goal in each half to secure the points and pressurize leaders Corinthians.
Loco Abreu made a winning return with Botafogo after Uruguay’s successful Copa America campaign. The veteran scored the only goal in his side’s 1-0 win away to Cruzeiro, moving the Alvinegro into sixth.
Sunday saw excellent wins for Fluminense and Vasco. The Tricolor thrashed Ceara 4-0 at the Engenhão with Fred, Souza, Rafael Sobis and Rafael Moura all getting on the scoresheet. Vasco’s feat was even more impressive, winning 2-0 away to São Paulo with goals from Eder Luis and Felipe.