By Robbie Blakeley, Contributing Reporter
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – Fluminense moved a point clear of Corinthians and Cruzeiro on Sunday. Two rounds were played over the past week, and the Tricolor succeeded in taking four points and not conceding a goal. Their Rio rivals Botafogo also enjoyed a successful week, as they stayed in a Copa Libertadores qualifying spot.
Internacional 0-0 Fluminense
Fluminense goalkeeper Ricardo Berna was in prime form, making a string of excellent saves to earn a point for his side in the Beira-Rio. Fluminense had started the brighter, Carlinhos stinging the palms of Renan in the opening minutes.
But in the battle of the Argentine playmakers, Inter’s Andres d’Alessandro outshone Flu’s Conca. D’Alessandro bossed the midfield and created a number of chances for his front men, only Berna’s athleticism keeping the scores level.
Botafogo 3-2 Atlético-GO
Botafogo made hard work of what appeared to be a routine victory in the Engenhão. The Rio side held a three goal lead, but their visitors replied in the last ten minutes to almost snatch an unlikely point. Caio gave Botafogo the lead just before half-time, heading in unmarked. Right after the break, Jobson doubled their advantage, firing home powerfully with his left foot. And on 65 minutes, a Loco Abreu penalty appeared to have put Botafogo in cruise control. Goals from Juninho and Robston put Atlético back in contention, but it was too little too late.
Ceará 2-2 Flamengo
Flamengo twice gave away the lead to drop two points. They were ahead inside two minutes when Ceará goalkeeper Michel Alves dropped the ball at the feet of Wellinton, who stroked the ball into the unguarded net.
After being handed the initiative, the visitors inexplicably retreated into their shell, and Ceará, pushing for an equalizer, deservedly earned one when Flamengo goalkeeper Marcelo Lomba failed to deal with a cross, and Magno Alves poked home.
In the second half, Luxemburgo ordered Diogo to play alongside Deivid and Diego Maurício in attack and halfway through the second period Flamengo’s lead was restored when Ronaldo Angelim scored with a header. Ceará had barely pressed during the second half, but eight minutes from time Magno Alves bagged his second, firing in with his right foot.
Vasco 2-1 Grêmio Prudente
Vasco came from a goal behind to beat the league’s bottom side. Rodrigo Pimenta gave Prudente the lead after nine minutes, scoring a wonderful solo goal. Picking the ball up on the left flank, he cut inside, beating three Vasco defenders before scoring with his right boot. On the half hour, Vasco were level. Felipe whipped in a free kick, and Rômulo rose above the Prudente goalkeeper to equalize. The same pair combined to give Vasco the lead, Felipe again crossing from the right and Romulo nodding in the goal.
Avaí 0-0 Botafogo
Avaí and Botafogo shared the spoils in a dull game at the Ressacada. Avaí needed victory to keep their survival hopes alive and tried to launch the kitchen sink at Botafogo. But the reason they are struggling soon became apparent, as the Rio side’s defense quashed any threat Avaí posed. The second half was much like the first, Avai constantly trying to break Botafogo’s resistance, unsuccessfully.
Flamengo 0-1 Atlético-PR
Flamengo suffered their first loss under Vanderlei Luxemburgo. It was the visitors who did the early pressing, Marcelo Lomba forced into action twice in the first twenty minutes. Their pressure told when Flamengo midfielder Maldonado rashly brought down Nieto inside the box, and Paulo Baier scored the penalty.
Flamengo started the second half stronger, Renato curling an effort over from outside the box and Diego Maurício missing twice from close range. Right at the end, Marquinhos missed with a header from six yards, angling the ball over with the goal at his mercy.
Fluminense 1-0 Vasco
Fluminense stayed top with a narrow victory. The only goal came after three minutes. Conca cut in from the left and unleashed a venomous right footed drive from the edge of the area. Fernando Prass could only palm the effort into the path of Tarta, who put the rebound in. Vasco responded well, Eder Luis going close with a long range effort.
Marquinho missed a golden opportunity go double Flu’s lead when he was through on goal. The midfielder tried to dribble round the goalkeeper, but the Vasco defense raced back and cleared. Nunes hit the post for Vasco from twelve yards, but Fluminense clung on for victory.