By Robbie Blakeley, Senior Contributing Reporter
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – Fluminense got the 2013 Campeonato Brasileiro off to the perfect start, beating Atlético-PR 2-1 yesterday in the opening round. Goals from Samuel and Rafael Sóbis saw the Tricolor home as coach Abel Braga recorded a reserve side in anticipation of the Copa Libertadores second leg tie on Wednesday.
It was a sluggish performance from the defending champions who can count themselves lucky to have walked away with all three points. Twice Atlético struck the woodwork, with Ricardo Berna stranded in the Flu goal.
Fluminense had already been under pressure before taking the lead against the runoff play on sixteen minutes. Samuel was felled inside the penalty area and Sóbis calmly tucked away the resulting spot-kick.
Nevertheless, Atlético deservedly equalized just before the half-hour. Manoel rose unmarked at a corner to plant a corner past Berna.
Braga changed formation from 3-5-2 to 4-4-2 at the break and eight minutes after the restart saw a reward. Sóbis’ low cross was stabbed home by Samuel for the spoils.
Meanwhile, Flamengo drew 0-0 with Santos in Neymar’s final game for the club. The 21-year-old has agreed to join Catalan giants Barcelona and is set to move to Spain in preparation for the 2013/14 season.
The news broke late on Saturday night and as a result, yesterday’s match was played in a somewhat muted atmosphere. Neymar himself had a quiet game and was clearly emotional prior to kick-off as he faced up to his last match at a club he has been at since childhood.
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