by Robbie Blakeley, Contributing Reporter
RIO DE JANEIRO – Fluminense have moved a point clear of Corinthians in the race for the 2010 Brasilerao. No midweek matches meant the twelfth round took place last Saturday and Sunday, and, playing a day earlier than their closest rivals, Fluminense had a huge opportunity to apply some pressure if they could overcome Atletico-PR on Saturday evening. The Tricolor achieved the feat with aplomb.
Meanwhile, Botafogo managed their first win since round one overcoming a stubborn Vitoria side, and Vasco’s resurgence continued as they held Flamengo in a stalemate in the Maracana on Sunday evening.
Fluminense 3-1 Atletico-PR
Fluminense returned to the summit of the league table with a comprehensive victory over Atletico Paranaense on Saturday evening. Veteran striker Washington, recently re-recruited from Sao Paulo, made his debut, and he duly obliged with a brace. His first goal came after excellent work from Argentine attacking midfielder Dario Conca who chased down a seemingly lost cause on the right touchline, before robbing his opponent and putting across a pin-point pass which Washington neatly steered into the back of the net.
Ten minutes after the break, Washington laid on a goal for his strike partner, Emerson Sheik. Sheik received a subtle through ball from his team mate and found himself one-on-one with goalkeeper Neto and, portraying the confidence of a man in form, he smashed the ball home to double Fluminense’s lead.
Washington made sure of the points twenty minutes from time with his second goal of the game and a second assist from Conca. The Argentine, who was the best player on the pitch, first used his pace to beat a defender to the ball, then his deftness of touch to poke the ball into the striker’s path, who was left with the simple task of side-footing the ball into the goal for 3-0.
Atletico-PR managed to pull a goal back through Bruno Mineiro, but nothing could dampen the mood inside the Maracana as Fluminense stole top spot.
Vitoria 1-3 Botafogo
A quiet game that appeared to be heading for a goalless draw burst into life in stunning fashion in the last ten minutes. Botafogo had looked devoid of ideas in attack, despite coach Joel Santana repeatedly barking orders from the touchline. Recently called up to national duty, Botafogo keeper Jefferson showed the form which has forced his way into Brazil coach Mano Menezes’ first national squad with two smart saves.
With ten minutes to go, Botafogo substitute Edno scored an immaculate goal. Receiving the ball with his back to goal, the front man executed an agile swivel and shot, angling the ball into the bottom right hand corner of the net beyond the reach of Vitoria keeper Viafra, who didn’t even bother diving.
Just as Botafogo fans dreamed of collecting their first win in nine attempts, Junior headed in an equalizer for the hosts straight from the kick off. Amazingly, Botafogo then repeated that feat to take the lead once again from striker Jobson, who cheekily lifted the ball over Viafra to convert Marcelo Cordeiro’s cross-shot. And in the final minute of injury time Jobson struck again, this time with a sweet left-foot shot after a mazy dribble.
Flamengo 0-0 Vasco
Over 60,000 fans packed into the Maracana on Sunday evening to watch the Rio derby between Flamengo and Vasco de Gama. Unfortunately, the majority will have been left sorely disappointed by the spectacle. Flamengo looked nervous from the kick off, whereas Vasco, brimming with confidence after collecting eight points from four games after the World Cup, took the game to the hosts. However, it would be Flamengo who wasted the best chance of a scarce game, when Vasco’s keeper Fernando Prass pulled off an excellent point blank save from Cristian Borja to keep the score at 0-0.