By Robbie Blakeley, Senior Contributing Reporter
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – Fred scored his first goal in the 379th Fla-Flu classíco as Fluminense beat Flamengo 1-0 on the 100th anniversary of the first meeting between the rival clubs. The result was Flu’s fourth straight win and put the Tricolor second after the eighth round of the 2012 Brasileirão after Vasco drew with Figueirense but Atlético-MG beat Portuguesa to maintain top spot.
On a rainy afternoon at the Engenhão Stadium, Fred’s solitary strike was enough to snatch victory on a day when Flamengo’s pressure wasn’t aided by a toothless attack.
In truth, the Rubro-Negro played the better football, especially in the second half as they searched in vain for an equalizer, but are still missing a number 10 to link midfield and attack. Fans can only pray negotiations with Wolfsburg’s Diego bear fruit soon.
Before the match kicked-off, there were celebrations to mark the date. Artist, ex-players and singers all took to the field to entertain the 38,000 inside the stadium, while Peter Simensen and Patricia Amorim, the presidents of Fluminense and Flamengo respectively, received a commemorative trophy each to mark the occasion.
And when the ball rolled it was Flamengo who were fasted out of the tracks. Bottinelli and Ibson worked tirelessly in midfield to provide for Vagner Love, who went close in the opening exchanges.
On ten minutes and with their first sniff of goal, Flu opened the scoring. Thiago Neves crossed from the right and Fred stole in front of González to divert the ball home, inscribing his name in the history books of Brazil’s oldest rivalry.
Fla coach Joel Santana made one change at the interval, bringing on Adryan for the ineffectual Diego Mauricio. But Flu remained impenetrable in defense as Mengão failed time and again to open an inviting gap, and as the half wore on nerves began to show.
As they defended steadfastly Flu’s main outlet was Wellington Nem, whose pace and trickery was a thorn in Flamengo’s side for the entirety of the afternoon. Fifteen minutes from time Samuel joined him in attack to add more pace, goalscorer Fred making way.
Abel Braga went further on the defensive by removing Deco and replacing him with holding midfielder Deco. His ploy was clear; Abelão was shutting up shop. But all Braga succeeded in doing was offer an open invitation to Flamengo to search for the leveler. And when Magal found Adryan free in the area, the teenager should have buried his chance.
In the final minutes Flamengo piled on pressure as they laid siege to the Fluminense goal. Arthur Sanches headed against the post, but Mengo were out of luck. Wellington Nem continued to threaten on the counter and add a golden chance to release Samuel to double Nense’s lead but misdirected his pass.
In the end it didn’t matter; Flu’s defense had stood strong to record their first win over their arch-rivals in over two years.
Other 2012 Brasileirão round eight results:
Atlético-MG 2-0 Portuguesa
Figueirense 1-1 Vasco
Internacional 2-1 Cruzeiro
Atlético-GO 0-1 Náutico
São Paulo 3-1 Coritiba
Santos 4-2 Grêmio
Botafogo 3-0 Bahia
Sport 1-1 Corinthians
Ponte Preta 1-0 Palmeiras