By Robbie Blakeley, Contributing Reporter
RIO DE JANEIRO – Fluminense’s sixteen-game unbeaten run came to an end on Sunday after falling to a resolute Guarani side. The Tricolor’s form has faltered lately, and they have now gone three games without a win.
Botafogo and Vasco continued their ascent up the table with impressive away wins, while a much needed win continued to evade Flamengo, the team failing to find the target again.
Grêmio Prudente 0-1 Botafogo
Botafogo climbed into the Copa Libertadores qualifying places with a dogged away display. Goalkeeper Jefferson was the star of the first half, making three spectacular saves as the Botafogo defense survived a barrage of attacks. Fittingly, a well-executed counter attack provided the game’s only goal. Collecting a pass from substitute Renato Caju, the in-form Maicosuel finished coolly to take the points back to Rio.
Cruzeiro 1-0 Flamengo
Flamengo carried on in the same poor vein of form in new coach Silas’ first game in charge despite signs of hope for the future. The team played more coherently than they have done for weeks, and only went down to an early goal from Robert, who scored from close range after a routine mix up in the Flamengo defense. Leo Moura had a great chance to equalize for the visitors, but headed over from just eight yards.
Fluminense 1-1 Palmeiras
Fluminense fans will be left kicking themselves after their team conceded a 92nd minute equalizer. Things started brightly for the league leaders, with Emerson Sheik scoring his sixth goal in seven games to put them in the lead. Nense were wasteful in front of goal during the first half, none more so than Washington, who lacked pace and composure in front of goal. Palmeiras were far stronger in the second half, and got the goal their play deserved at the death, Ewerthon netting after Edinho’s cushioned header.
Botafogo 2-2 Grêmio
Botafogo dropped two points on Saturday evening after throwing away a two goal lead. Fogão were two up after twenty minutes courtesy of an Antonio Carlos bullet header and a precise finish from Herrera. However, Grêmio forward Jonas struck back with a well timed shot early in the second half. From there the visitors repeatedly battered on the Botafogo door, and were eventually rewarded five minutes from time when Jonas headed in his second of the game.
Ceará 0-2 Vasco
Vasco’s confidence is growing with each game, and this was a masterful performance in the Castelão. Zé Roberto gave them the lead in the seventh minute, finishing Eder Luis’ pin point pass, and they were never put under any pressure by a Ceará side that looked bereft of creativity, and Fellipe Bastos scored number two with a powerful 25 yard volley after his free kick rebounded off the wall.
Flamengo 0-0 Santos
Mengão’s new signing Deivid missed his side’s best chance, blazing over with the goal at his mercy as he snatched at the chance. Santos played the better football, and substitute Madson and Zé Eduardo tested Marcelo Lomba, who stood firm in goal, but
both sets of strikers left disappointed as chances went begging at either end.
Guarani 2-1 Fluminense
Fluminense let slip a one goal lead and with it handed the title impetus to Corinthians, who are just a point behind them with a game in hand. Emerson Sheik scored yet again for the Tricolor, volleying in from close range after Mariano’s cross was headed back across goal by strike partner Washington. However, Baiano and Fabão both scored free kicks for the hosts, with Fernando Henrique’s positional sense and the strength of the wall in front of him being put under the spotlight on both occasions.