By Robbie Blakeley, Senior Contributing Reporter
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – Fluminense and Botafogo drew 1-1 at the Engenhão on Sunday evening, April 1st, in the sixth round of the 2012 Taça Rio in front of a disappointing crowd of only 11,000. The result saw Fogão lose first place to Flamengo in Group A, who had beaten Bangu 2-1 earlier in the day, while a draw was not enough for Flu to climb into the top two in Group B, remaining two points behind Bangu.
With two rounds to go in the group stage, Flu fans must pray that Bangu drop points against either Macaé or Resende whilst the Laranjeiras outfit win their remaining fixtures.
In the weekend’s classico, Elkeson gave Botafogo the lead before Fred equalized for the Tricolor in the first half as Bota failed to capitalize on their dominance.
In the opening encounters Fluminense failed to control possession, and apart from Fred’s early header wide it was the Alvinegro who looked the more dangerous side.
They were more cohesive in attack and their passing through the middle more crisp and precise; their opening goal came as no surprise. Elkeson brushed Bruno aside far too easily, exchanged a rapid one-two with Andrezinho and deftly clipped the ball over Diego Cavalieri as the goalkeeper advanced.
But inexplicably, after taking the lead Botafogo retreated into their shell, giving Fluminense the run of the game. Full-backs Carlinhos and Bruno were permitted ample space down both flanks to whip in crosses for target man Fred, but they failed to find the required accuracy.
As the Tricolor came into their own, it was Deco once again who became their fountain of creativity. First he sent a pin-point pass to Fred, who controlled the ball on his chest before volleying wide.
Then he released Wellington Nem, who got goalside of Márcio Azevedo before squaring for Fred to level on 34 minutes. Emboldened by the equalizer, Flu suddenly looked the more threatening as the game progressed towards half-time.
And it was Deco again at the center of Flu’s play as he again provided Wellington Nem with a slide rule pass, only for the youngster to waste the chance. Botafogo were relieved to hear the whistle blow for the interval.
But try as they might, Flu couldn’t raise the game to the same tempo in the second half. Thiago Neves was anonymous and on the hour Fred left the pitch to be replaced by Rafael Moura.
The exit of Flu’s main attacking threat buoyed Bota, and Herrera lashed a long-range effort against the post. Coach Oswaldo de Oliveira introduced Jóbson to give his side more of an offensive edge, but the striker failed to influence proceedings as the game petered out as a contest with both sides making innumerable errors.
Abel Braga threw on Rafael Sóbis for one last roll of the dice, but the game ended honors even; it was the third 1-1 draw between the sides in the last four months.
Taça Rio Round Six Results:
Nova Iguaçu 0-0 Volta Redonda
Macaé 1-4 Vasco
Resende 2-1 Americano
Boavista 1-2 Olaria
Flamengo 2-1 Bangu
Friburguense 1-1 Madureira
Duque de Caxias 2-1 Bonsucesso
Fluminense 1-1 Botafogo