By Robbie Blakeley, Contributing Sports Reporter
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – Fluminense fans hailed a hero last Thursday when it became apparent team heartbeat and idol Dario Conca had played his last game for the club. The Argentine, who has won the Brasileiro Player of the Year Award two years running, has accepted an offer from Chinese club Guangzhou Evergrande. His wages will reportedly be a staggering R$2.5 million a year.
It proved another successful round for three Carioca clubs in the national Brasileiro tournament which started in May. Flamengo and Botafogo claimed vital away victories, Fluminense beat bottom side Atletico-PR, whilst only Vasco tasted defeat at the hands of Cruzeiro.
Flamengo star Ronaldinho again proved the difference as as his team came from behind to win 3-2 away to America-MG. Scorer of two goals, the man known as “The Tooth” by his teammates came to the fore when it mattered most.
Deft touches, astute passes and a curling free-kick that gave Flamengo the lead showed he was in the mood. But shoddy defending was to prove their downfall again as two headers from set pieces put America in front. The goals spurred America on as Flamengo retreated.
It was left to Deivid to keep their heads above water; running onto a neat reverse pass from Thiago Neves, the striker struck past the keeper with his left foot. The home side appeared happy to settle for a draw but Mengao pushed on. Six minutes from time, they got their reward after Bottinelli laid the ball to Ronaldinho to apply the finishing touch.
Cruzeiro put in a masterful display to overcome Vasco 3-0 in Sao Januario. The game titled “Felipe v Montillo” was convincingly won by the Cruzeiro player, who got on the score sheet and made his Vasco counterpart obsolete.
The first half almost sent the crowd to sleep, and it was only in the 54th minute when Leandro Guerreiro’s goal gave the visitors the lead that the game opened up. Vasco huffed and puffed but failed to knock the Cruzeiro house down, and two goals in the last two minutes looked worse on Vasco than their performance merited.
An excellent display in the Morumbi Stadium allowed Botafogo to walk away with a 2-0 win against São Paulo Futebol Clube. Botafogo dominated from the first kick and goals from Elkeson and Herrera lifted the side to fourth in the table.
The Alvinegro signaled their intent early on when a rasping Herrera drive was well saved by Rogerio Ceni. However, the Paulista keeper was to be at fault for Botafogo’s opener when he let a long range Elkeson effort slip through his fingers.
The visitors’ supremacy continued in the second half. In the 51st minute, Maicosuel was brought down in the area by Luiz Eduardo. Herrera doubled the visitors’ lead from the spot to wrap up the points.
In Conca’s final match, Ciro scored twice to give Fluminense a 3-1 win over Atletico-PR. The Argentine had one of his quieter games but still managed to have a hand in two of Flu’s goals.
Atletico played like a team at the bottom of the league, and two goals in two minutes before half-time settled Flu’s nerves. First, Mariano cut inside the area and buried with his left foot before Ciro scored his first for the club with a curling effort from the edge of the area.
Flu looked assured after the break and broke at will, Ciro grabbing the third when he volleyed home from a corner. As the match ended, the focus of Flu fans turned to Conca with chants of “Stay!” It is looking unlikely that he will.