By Robbie Blakeley, Contributing Reporter
RIO DE JANEIRO – The Brasileirão 2010 soccer tournament kicked off again on Wednesday, July 14th following the end of the World Cup, which had taken all the footballing limelight for the last month.
Rounds eight and nine saw Fluminense close the gap on league leader Corinthians to just two points after picking up four points in their two games, including a gritty 1-0 win against Santos on Sunday.
Flamengo collected six points out of six despite huge off-the-field distractions regarding recently sacked goalkeeper Bruno and the ongoing saga regarding his missing ex-girlfriend.
Botafogo is yet to get going after the break, but Vasco da Gama picked up a much needed victory on Saturday that could see them kick start their season as they look to climb away from the relegation zone.
Flamengo 1-0 Botafogo
On a rain soaked Maracanã pitch that took most of the skill out of the game, Flamengo managed to defeat local rivals Botafogo. Bruno’s replacement Marcelo Lomba was in excellent form in goal making two athletic saves to keep the score goalless and twenty minutes from time, Flamengo’s tight defensive display was rewarded, as Paulo Sergio struck from fifteen yards to ensure the points.
Goiás 0-0 Vasco
Vasco’s poor start to the season continued with a dire goalless draw. Neither side created any clear cut chances, with Vasco front pair Jonathan and Nunes denied any decent service from which to profit. The draw meant they had recorded a solitary win in their opening eight games as they, along with Atlético-Goiás, began to appear cut off from the rest of the league.
Fluminense 1-1 Grémio Prudente
Hopes of a winning return to action for Muricy Ramalho’s men were crushed ten minutes from time when the Tricolor conceded a sloppy equalizer. Fluminense star Fred gave the team the lead early on with an exquisite header after a free kick from Dario Conca. Despite enjoying the lion’s share of possession, the Rio side failed to make it count, and an unfortunate slip from full back Mariano allowed Wanderley to race through and slot past goalkeeper Fernando Henrique, who was making his 250th appearance for Fluminense.
Vasco 3-1 Atlético-PR
Vasco overtook Paranense in the bottom three with a comfortable victory on Saturday. Putting in a determined performance they found themselves 2-0 up after just 25 minutes courtesy of Jonathan and Nunes. Despite conceding early in the second half, Vasco refused to change their attacking game and reaped dividends on the hour mark, as Leo Gago made sure of the points in São Januario stadium.
Santos 0-1 Fluminense
Fluminense won a hard fought match against Santos 1-0 in Vila Belmiro. Coach Ramalho employed three central defenders to cover for Santos’ explosive attacking trio of Robinho, Neymar and André. The Tricolor back line of Leandro Euzebio, André Luis and Gum performed exceptionally, closing down space whenever Santos looked threatening. Goalkeeper Fernando Henrique also deserves some of the plaudits, making a diving save to deny Santos midfielder Paolo Henrique Ganso. However, fifteen minutes from time substitute Alan raced onto a through pass from Marquinho and confidently slammed the ball into the bottom left hand corner for his fourth goal of the campaign.
Atlético-GO 0-1 Flamengo
Flamengo ensured their 100 percent return to the league with a hard fought victory in Goiás. Flamengo hero Petkovic, who has inherited the number ten shirt after Adriano departed for Rome, scored a first half penalty that wrapped up the points. The win helped the Rubro Negro climb into the top four, and they have proven wrong those who thought they would wilt with the absence of Adriano and Vagner Love.
Botafogo 1-1 Guaraní
Botafogo’s poor form continued with a disappointing 1-1 draw against Guaraní in the Engenhão stadium. Despite the return of striker Jobson their display again lacked conviction or creativity as they found themselves going in at half time a goal down. Danny Morais equalized for the Rio club just two minutes into the second half, and a draw was a fair result, as neither side looked worthy of three points.
It is now six games without a win for Botafogo, who face a daunting away trip to encounter Palmeiras on Thursday night.