By Lisa Flueckiger, Contributing Reporter
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – In the first leg of the Campeonato Carioca semifinals, the state championship in Rio de Janeiro, last minute qualifier Fluminense beat group phase champion Botafogo with 2-1 on Saturday, April 11th, while the game between Flamengo and Vasco remained goalless on Sunday.
Taça Guanabara winner Botafogo had entered the first leg of the semifinals with the advantage of qualifying for the final if both games ended in a tie, due to their better position in the group phase. Yet, it seemed that both teams were playing for the victory at Maracanã on Saturday.
Botafogo had the better start into the game, with more possession, but Fluminense seemed more dangerous in attack. It was then also the tricolor who scored first with Fred’s 300th goal of his career shortly before the half-time whistle.
After 74 minutes, it was Fred again who scored after a penalty was given to Fluminense due to a handball. The game seemed in safe hands for Fluminense after that, but Willian Arão marked five minutes before the end of the game reducing the score to 2-1 and had another chance in the final minutes that didn’t find the net.
The goal for Botafogo was important for the second leg of the Carioca semifinals between Fluminense and Botafogo, the Clássico Vovô (Grandpa derby), where the advantage is now on the side of the tricolor. The second leg will take place on Saturday, April 18th at 6:30 PM at Maracanã.
In the second semifinals, second-placed and last year’s champions Flamengo faced third-placed Vasco da Gama in an emotional game at the Maracanã on Sunday, April 12th. The game was characterized by intense and hard play and it was a surprise that nobody was sent off.
Vasco da Gama had more of the game and forced Flamengo goalkeeper Paulo Victor to save his team at least three times. Flamengo on the other side was more dangerous in the counter-attacks, which gave the rubro-negro two of the best chances of the game.
Yet, both teams showed difficulties in creating chances in the game. A fact that especially Vasco has to work on, as Flamengo, with the second place from the group phase, will progress to the final in case of another draw in the second leg. The game is set to take place on Sunday, April 19th at the Maracanã.