By Robbie Blakeley, Senior Contributing Reporter
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – Fred (Fluminense) and Andrezinho (Botafogo) found the back of the net on Sunday afternoon as the two teams drew 1-1 in the Classíco Vovô in the 2012 Campeonato Brasileirão national tournament. The result allowed Atlético-MG to open a three point gap at the top of the table after a heart stopping 4-3 win over Floríanopolis outfit Figueirense.
The Flu Fogo game began at a frenetic pace as both sides sought to take control early on. Indeed, the clubs remained equal for the majority of the afternoon, in front of a disappointing crowd of 17,122.
With just five minutes on the clock, both sides had come close to taking the lead. First, Jean crossed for Fred to head against the bar, before a rapid Botafogo counter saw Andrezinho shoot, only for Ricardo Berna tot tip round the post.
The early pressure gave the false impression the game would be one of multiple chances. For Flu, Deco’s one game suspension proved hurtful as they missed the vision he always brings to the pitch.
For Botafogo, the pairing of Cidinho and Vitor Junior was also failing to bear fruit. It was Fluminense who enjoyed the lion’s share of possession and before long Anderson went close from six yards.
Andrezinho was Fogão’s main creative outlet, combining well with Marcio Azevedo down the left, but Elkeson remained a lonely observer in attack. But for the first half defense won out as both sides created only two chances apiece, going in at the interval goalless.
“The team passed a lot to the side, but risked very little going forward. And the Engenhão pitch is bad, everyone knows that,” Fred said as he headed for the changing rooms.
Botafogo coach Oswaldo de Oliveira brought on Fellype Gabriel for the second half and immediately the side’s posture and movement improved. But Elkeson remained marked out of the game by Gum and Anderson.
And having successfully frozen out the Botafogo attack, Flu took the lead. Thiago Neves swung in a corner from the left and Fred leaped highest to head home, his ninth goal in eleven outings against Botafogo.
As they did against Flamengo, Flu began to retreat after taking the lead and this time it cost them dear. Through beautiful build-up play from Marcio Azevedo down the left flank, Fogo found their equaliser less than fifteen minutes after falling behind.
After exchanging a quickfire one-two with Elkeson, Azevedo put in a delightful swinging cross with the outside of his left boot. Andrezinho escaped Anderson’s attention at the far post to nod the leveler.
Reacting too late, Flu coach Abel Braga brought on Wellington Nem for the anonymous Samuel, but as the clock wore down it was Botafogo who continued pressing. Elkeson provided for Fellype Gabriel but Ricardo Berna made a great save with his feet.
Flu’s only response in the dying stages was a limp header from Fred that went wide as both sides opened their game in search of three valuable points, Botafogo bringing on Lennon and Flu Rafael Moura. But nothing changed. The result, at the final whistle, was all even.
Other 2012 Brasileirão round nine results:
Figueirense 3-4 Atlético-MG
Vasco 1-0 Atlético-GO
Ponte Preta 4-1 Coritiba
Internacional 0-0 Santos
Cruzeiro 1-3 Grêmio
Bahia 1-2 Flamengo
Corinthians 2-1 Náutico
Palmeiras 1-1 São Paulo
Sport 2-1 Portuguesa