By Doug Gray, Contributing Reporter
RIO DE JANEIRO – A long-awaited win has come for a Carioca side as Flamengo put away Santo André on Saturday, but for Botafogo and Fluminense the 2009 campaign continues to go from bad to worse. Botafogo registered their eleventh draw of the season in a thrilling 3 x 3 encounter with Grêmio at their Engenhao Stadium on Sunday evening, while Fluminense chalked up their twelfth defeat – a result which leaves them a point adrift at the foot of the table and no less than eight points from safety. Short of a minor miracle from Renato Gaúcho’s team, Serie B football beckons next season.
Flamengo 3 x 0 Santo Andre
After three defeats in a row, Flamengo were finally graced with the sound of cheering fans during a fine first half performance at The Maracanã on Saturday. Back to full strength without Adriano in attack, the experienced Petkovic led the way, crossing for Denis Marques to head home the opener on eight minutes. The half was interrupted by a light failure that sucked some rhythm out of the two teams, but another fine Petkovic pass deep into stoppage time drew a penalty for Flamengo which Leo Moura put away in the absence of Adriano.
It wasn’t until stoppage time in the second half that Zé Roberto completed a slightly flattering scoreline for the raça rubro-negro, but all that mattered for the fans were the three points that see them back up to eleventh in the league and just seven points away from the top four.
Botafogo 3 x 3 Gremio
Another feast of goals for Botafogo ended however in another missed chance to get three points as they left it late against Grêmio on Sunday. With their fans desperate for a win, the players looked unsettled until Reninaldo gave them the lead on nineteen minutes, beating Grêmio goalkeeper Victor at the second time of asking. The lead lasted less than five minutes when the lively Jonas equalized, and the players left the pitch to boos and jeers at half time.
Within seconds of the restart all was forgiven as Victor Simões’ pace put him through and he beat Grêmio’s Victor in style, but as has happened so often this season, the defense was once again made to look leaky and within half an hour goals from Souza and another from Jonas had given Grêmio a 2 x 3 lead. With two minutes left on the clock Botafogo eventually secured a point, Leandro Guerreiro’s deflected shot creeping in by the left post, but the team remain in eighteenth place, two points from safety and with a lot to do to avoid a tense end to the season.
Santos 2 x 0 Fluminense
New signing Gum was drafted into the center of defense for Flu and Santos were without suspended star striker Kleber Perreira. Despite good early signs, within moments of the kick off Kleber’s replacement Andre was a whisker away from opening the scoring, latching onto a Madson cross but shooting over. Though Fluminense responded well and almost scored themselves straight away, the rest of the half was spent hanging on by a thread, and Rafael had to be exceptional in goal. Just when it looked like the scores would somehow still be level at the break, a controversial free kick was headed in at the far post by André and Santos were on their way.
The second half was characterized by some poor play from both sides, and the result never looked in doubt. It was finally sealed by Ganso on the half hour, sending a George Lucas free kick beyond Rafael to make the final score 2 x 0. The next round will see some interesting relegation battles as Botafogo travel to Sport on Saturday and Fluminense host struggling Nautico on Sunday. Flamengo will hope to secure back-to-back wins when the take on Atlético-PR.