By Robbie Blakeley, Senior Contributing Reporter
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – Fluminense missed the chance to close the gap at the top of the Campeonato Brasileiro table last night after drawing 1-1 with Coritiba at the Maracanã. After league leaders Cruzeiro had been held to a goalless draw by Criciúma earlier in the day, Flu were handed the perfect opportunity to make up ground on the 2013 champions.
Yet the visitors were by far the better side yesterday evening and Fluminense were lucky to take a point. Despite the draw, Coritiba remain in the relegation zone after fourteen rounds of the 2014 Brasileirão.
Star striker Fred remained on the bench while Rafael Sóbis led the line, and as the game kicked off coach Crisotvão Borges’ bold ploy looked to be working.
But as the first half wore on Coritiba came into the game, winning the battle in midfield. The visitors, though, were missing a clinical center forward, and were unable to convert sustained pressure into clear, goalscoring opportunities.
Flu went ahead against the run of play on 24 minutes, when Elívelton rose unopposed to head home a corner. Yet any ideas Nense had of capitalizing on their lead were quickly and efficiently thwarted. Coritiba had clearly done their homework. Cícero, Wágner, Conca and Sóbis were all man-marked, leaving next to no space for Flu in the final third.
Sensing they had the upper hand, coach Celso Roth brought on striker Keirrison for midfielder Robinho, but on 77 minutes the visitors lost influential playmaker Alex to injury. Meanwhile, Borges was desperately trying to defend his side’s slender lead.
Off came Cícero and Bruno for Chiquinho and Edson, with central midfielder Jean moving to right-back, but the tactical switch did not pay off. Chiquinho’s misplaced pass allowed Coritiba to attack, the ball falling to Germano on the edge of the area to strike a sensational volley past Diego Cavalieri for a deserved share of the spoils.
Read more (in Portuguese).
* The Rio Times Daily Updates feature is offered to help keep you up-to-date with important news as it happens.