By Jayme Monsanto, Contributing Reporter
RIO DE JANEIRO – More than 80,000 sport fans gathered in the Maracanã stadium last Sunday to witness the showdown between Flamengo and Botafogo. The game would decide Taça Rio, the second leg of the Rio de Janeiro state’s soccer championship, Campeonato Carioca.
The game started punctually at 4PM, and the majority of the audience was made of Flamengo supporters. The first half ended in a tie, although Flamengo lead in ball possession, and had more shots on goal than their rival. The Botafogo team missed a lot of passes, while Flamengo was more accurate controlling the ball.
The Flamengo fans placed their hopes on Emerson, a recently acquired striker. Although he played well, the match was decided ironically by another Emerson. In the beginning of the second half, the Botafogo defender Emerson scored a own goal on his own team. During a Flamengo attack he tried to kick the ball out of bounds, ending up placing the ball in his own team’s goal.
Once ahead, Flamengo held it’s defense in order to keep the the lead. Botafogo’s Thiaguinho was sent off after a rough foul against Flamengo’s Juan, and the numeric advantage helped Flamengo maintain the 1-0 result until the end of the match.
With the Flamengo victory, Campeonato Carioca’s final will be Flamengo against Botafogo for the third year in a row. On 2007 and 2008, Flamengo won, but in both those loses Botafogo was commanded by coach Cuca. Now that Cuca leads Flamengo, the Botafogo supporters hope his bad luck will continue. Unlucky or not in the Campeonato Carioca’s final, coach Cuca left the Maracanã stadium as the only three-time-in-a-row Taça Rio champion.
Going into the Campeonato Carioca finals, Flamengo’s expectations are very high, as the team won five of the eight State Championships so far this decade, equaling Fluminense last year as Carioca soccer’s biggest winners of State Championships. With 30 titles each, Flamengo is now trying to pass Fluminense this year, achieving hegemony in Carioca Soccer.
The two finals between Flamengo and Botafogo will happen on the next two Sundays (April 26th and May 3rd), in Maracanã stadium.