By Jayme Monsanto, Senior Reporter
RIO DE JANEIRO – Last weekend saw Taça Rio reaching round three, and the first classic match in the competition: Fluminense versus Botafogo. The two traditional rivals met on Sunday at the Maracanã Stadium, in a showdown that is known in Rio as “o Clássico Vovô” (“the Grandfather Classic”), since Botafogo and Fluminense are two of the oldest soccer teams in the city.
Even though the two clubs are almost even when it comes to their matchups over the years, on Sunday Fluminense dominated from the first minute. Despite a strong performance, however, they couldn’t find the net in the first half, and it was Botafogo who took the lead first. In the 38th minute, Fluminense’s Maicon pulled Botafogo’s Wellington inside the goal box and the referee signalled a penalty kick. Herrera stepped up and scored making it Botafogo 1-0.
In the second half Fluminense continued to out-perform Botafogo, and eventually got their reward. In the 61st minute Fred scored a beautiful volley which he dedicated to his daughter Geovanna, who turned four years old on that day. Then later, in the 82nd minute, Mariano produced the winner after receiving a cross from team-mate Wellington Silva inside the box, making the final score 2-1.
Also on Sunday, Vasco played Boavista. Even though their performance was unconvincing, the home side managed to leave their São Januário Stadium with a 1-0 victory. Captain Carlos Alberto scoring the decisive goal with a penalty in the 70th minute.
Flamengo’s match was on Saturday against Resende, at the Raulino de Oliveira Stadium (in Volta Redonda). Coach Andrade once more couldn’t count on Adriano, who had just returned from England where he played with the Brazilian national side in a friendly against Ireland.
On Friday, the controversy-courting striker was involved in a public fight with his girlfriend in a baile funk at the Complexo do Alemão favela, and has missed practice since. Adriano will now not play in his team’s next two matches, with Coach Andrade giving him some time off to solve his “personal issues”. Rumours abound that he is eighteen pounds over weight and has a drinking problem.
Despite the absence of their most important player, the Flamengo side beat Resende comfortably 4-0, with Bruno Mezenga, Léo Moura, Vinícius Pacheco and Vagner Love scoring the goals. Love now has ten goals in the Campeonato Carioca, leading the competition’s top scorers chart.
The fourth round of Taça Rio will take place at the weekend, as three of the “Big Four” have midweek matches to play in other competitions: on Wednesday, Flamengo plays the Venezuelan team Caracas in the fourth round of Libertadores das Américas at the Maracanã. On the same day, Fluminense plays Confiança, a team from the northeast (Sergipe state), in the Copa do Brasil championship. On Thursday, Botafogo plays São Raimundo, a team from Pará (another state in the northeast), at the Engenhão Stadium, also in the Copa do Brasil.
Back to the Taça Rio, on Saturday Fluminense plays América at the Edson Passos Stadium. On Sunday Flamengo meets Vasco at the Maracanã Stadium for their first classico of the competition and Botafogo plays Olaria at the Engenhão Stadium.