By Robbie Blakeley, Contributing Reporter
RIO DE JANEIRO – Fluminense returned to the top of the Brasilerão on Sunday after crucial back-to-back wins. Midweek also saw a fierce Rio derby between Vasco and Botafogo that resulted in a draw, while Flamengo managed just a solitary point from their last two rounds and remain just outside the relegation zone.
Grêmio 2-2 Flamengo
Flamengo rescued a precious point five minutes from time with a strike from substitute Petkovic to go four games unbeaten. Grêmio took the lead after six minutes, when Douglas carried the ball into the area before firing past Marcelo Lomba. Flamengo weathered a strong Gremista storm before equalizing in the 33rd minute, when Leo Moura crossed for Kleberson to steer home. The visitors started the second half slowly, and were punished when Jonas gave Grêmio the lead for a second time with his twelfth goal of the campaign, but Mengão replied, Léo Moura again providing the assist, releasing Petkovic who dribbled round Gremio keeper Victor to earn a share of the spoils.
Vasco 2-2 Botafogo
Botafogo stormed back from two goals down at half time to earn a point in the Engenhão on Wednesday evening. The game sprung into life in the thirteenth minute, when Ramon gave Vasco the lead with a deflected effort. Botafogo lost defender Antônio Carlos and midfielder Maicosuel to injury before Éder Luis doubled Vasco’s lead ten minutes before half time with a fine effort from distance. Botafogo fought back in the second half, Herrera scoring with a header after Fernando Prass’ poor clearance, and Loco Abreu leveled with a cool penalty in injury time.
Fluminense 5-1 Atlético-MG
Fluminense thrashed the hapless visitors who were also reduced to nine men in a bad-tempered end to the game. Leandro Euzébio headed the hosts into the lead, before Daniel Carvalho equalized with a free kick. From then on, it was all Flu, and goals from Gum, Marquinho and a brace from full back Carlinhos helped propel the Rio side back towards the summit of the table.
Guarani 1-0 Vasco
Baiano scored a fortuitous penalty to give Guarani victory in a quiet game. Neither side dominated and it seemed destined for a goalless draw, before Vasco substitute Ricardo Xavier was deemed to have tripped Dedé in the area, and the referee pointed to the spot. Baiano duly obliged and Vasco, failing to find any coherency from then on, will have to start turning draws into wins if they are to avoid the relegation dogfight.
Flamengo 1-3 Palmeiras
The Brasilerão champions wilted as Kleber scored two goals to earn a worthy victory for the visitors who were awarded a penalty in the nineteenth minute when David bundled Tinga over in the area, and Kleber scored from the spot. Ten minutes later he doubled the lead. Collecting a pass from Tinga, he fired a powerful right footed shot beyond Marcelo Lomba. Petkovic then pulled one back for Flamengo with a penalty after Diogo had been fouled by Vitor, but Lincoln made sure of the points five minutes from time.
Botafogo 1-1 Atlético-PR
Botafogo conceded a last minute equalizer to drop two valuable points at the Engenhão on Sunday. The result was harsh on ‘Fogo, who had controlled the game and imposed their own rhythm on proceedings. They got their goal in the 22nd minute, when Jobson found Edno in the area, and he finished emphatically with his left foot. Paranaense made two changes at the break to little effect, but escaped with an unlikely draw when Guerron shrugged off the attentions of Fábio Ferreira to slot past Jefferson.
Vitória 1-2 Fluminense
Fluminense reclaimed pole position with a hard fought victory in Bahia. After a tetchy first half, in which the Tricolor survived two near misses due to lapses of concentration in defense, Flu were awarded a dubious penalty after Rodriguinho was felled by Vanderson. Conca held his nerve after a lengthy delay for Vitória protestations to give the visitors the lead. Five minutes later, the home side were level after Flu keeper Rafael spilled a thunderous free kick and Henrique tapped the ball into an empty net but ‘Nense heads refused to drop and moments later Conca fed Rodriguinho with a delightful through ball, which he calmly chipped home to take three points back to Laranjeiras.