By Robbie Blakeley, Senior Contributing Reporter
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – Fluminense cut Atlético-MG’s lead at the top of the 2012 Brasileirão to three points after the fourteenth round. With the Minas side’s game against Flamengo postponed, Flu seized their chance with a gritty win over Coritiba.
There was also good news for Botafogo fans, with the Alvinegro coming from behind to win away. Vasco, who remain in second place just one point behind Atlético-MG and two ahead of Flu, were held to a stalemate by the Corinthians.
The big news on Saturday evening was Seedorf’s first goal in Brazilian football as Botafogo defeated Atlético-GO 2-1. The Dutch international curled in a beautiful free-kick to kickstart his club’s chase for a G-4 position in the table, thus qualifying for next year’s Copa Libertadores.
Fogão made a quiet start as Atlético dictated rhythm who after going close twice opened the scoring on 27 minutes. The referee awarded a penalty when Eron was pulled back by Fábrio Ferrerira and goalkeeper Márcio scored from the spot.
Botafogo tried to respond before the break but Rafael Marques was almost anonymous and was substituted for Fellype Gabriel. As the second half began Fogão at first failed to turn possession into chances, but on 64 minutes, Seedorf would get his chance.
The veteran curled a free-kick around the wall without giving Márcio a prayer. The goal breathed new life into the Carioca club as Atlético visibly shrunk on the field. The turnaround was complete ten minutes later when Elkeson’s cross was converted by Fellype Gabriel.
Two goals in three minutes gave Fluminense a 2-0 victory away to Coritiba. The Tricolor stay in third place in the table but are now just three points behind leaders Atlético-MG.
A rare situation in the life of a Flu fan has now occurred; Tricolores must hope Flamengo defeat Atlético to keep the gap at three points.
It was not all smiles for Flu yesterday though as the victory saw the side lose Deco and Wellington Nem to injury.
Fluminense seemed content to to sit back and hit on the counter, reliant on Wellington Nem’s rapid velocity to cause calamity in the Coritiba defense. In the first half, Nem was nullified and subsequently so was Fred, his supply line cut off.
In the final attack of the half, Cavalieri saved superbly from Everton Costa’s bullet header. On the rebound, Fred managed to scramble the ball to safety. Eight minutes into the second half Deco left the pitch with pain in his left thigh. He was followed three minutes later by Wellington Nem with a suspected pulled muscle.
With the loss of their two principal playmakers, Flu began to cede ground. Cavalieri saved again from Everton Costa and Leonardo before Coritiba’s Ayrton was dismissed for two bookable offenses. In the very next minute Flu opened the scoring when Marcos Junior’s cross was diverted into his own net by Pereira. It took Flu another two minutes to seal the win, Wágner’s low cross from the left finding Fred who rolled the ball home.
Two rock solid defenses could not be breached as Vasco drew 0-0 with Corinthians at São Januário. Cortinhians pressured in the first half, Vasco keeper Fernando Prass being called upon on several occasions to make stops.
Vasco failed to impose themselves at all and it was the Paulistas who looked more likely to break the deadlock. Jorge Henrique missed the best chance of the match, heading over for the visitors from just seven yards out.