By Robbie Blakeley, Senior Contributing Reporter
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – Fluminense comprehensively beat Palmeiras 3-0 last night at the Maracanã Stadium in the 21st round of the 2014 Campeonato Brasileiro to move back into the G-4. A brace from Fred before Darío Conca netted the final goal secured the points, and coach Cristovão Borges’ offensive line-up, without a recognized holding midfielder, paid dividends.
The victory helps Fluminense onto 35 points, and, for now at least, fourth place in the table. Should Internacional beat Botafogo, or Grêmio triumph away to Atlético-MG, however, Flu will slip back down the league.
The Cariocas got off to the perfect start last night, taking the lead after just six minutes. Conca played a deft through ball to Chiquinho, whose low cross was stabbed home by Fred at the second attempt.
Nense comfortably controlled the midfield and were put under little pressure, despite one fingertip save from Diego Cavalieri. On 32 minutes, the referee awarded the home side a penalty when Renato handled inside the area. Fred stepped up and calmly stroked home his and Flu’s second of the game. By the half-time whistle, the Tricolor were in cruise control.
For the second half, Borges sent on Valencia for Rafael Sóbis to add some defensive strength to the midfield. Yet it was Palmeiras who started on the front foot, with Cristaldo missing two glorious chances to pull a goal back for the visitors. Palmeiras wanted a penalty when the ball struck Marlon’s hand inside the penalty area, but referee Elmo Rezende interpreted the contact as unintentional and waved play on.
Midway through the half, Conca put the game out of sight, from a free-kick wide on the right, he curled the ball around the wall and inside Fabio’s near post, much to the goalkeeper’s embarrassment.
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