By Robbie Blakeley, Senior Contributing Reporter
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – Fluminense comprehensively beat América-RN 3-0 last night in the last sixteen of the Copa do Brasil at the Arena das Dunas in Natal. Midfielder Cícero put in a stellar showing, scoring the first two goals as the Rio club eased their way towards the quarter-finals.
The tie also saw the return of Seleção striker Fred to the Flu starting line-up, but by the final whistle Cícero was the name on everybody’s lips. América only managed to threaten sporadically and even then found no way past Flu keeper Diego Cavalieri.
There remains a second leg, to be played at the Maracanã next Wednesday, but such is Nenese’s advantage a turnaround is highly unlikely. The Tricolor are aiming to win the Copa do Brasil for the first time since 2007.
Flu coach Crisotvão Borges rested four first-team regulars last night. Elívelton, Edson, Chiquinho and Fred replaced Henrique, Valencia, Wágner and Rafael Sóbis.
The side still played their manager’s fast-paced, quick-passing game. It paid off almost immediately, with the Cariocas taking the lead after only nine minutes. Chiquinho found Cícero free inside the penalty area, and the No. 5 had time to control and volley past Fernando Henrique in the América goal.
Marcelinho and Pimpão went close for the hosts but at the half-time interval Fluminense were still good for their 1-0 lead. Just three minutes after the interval, Flu doubled their lead. Again, Chiquinho crossed from the left, and once more Cícero stole in to flick the ball between the legs of Dida, who substituted the injured Fernando Henrique.
From there on in, it was all Flu. América, who could not get close to their opponent’s goal, started shooting from range. On 66 minutes, the result was put beyond any doubt. Fred supplied Darío Conca, and the Argentine playmaker applied the finishing touch.
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