By Robbie Blakeley, Senior Contributing Reporter
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – Botafogo and Fluminense both found some form to pick up their poise in the Brasileirão national tournament campaigns. Botafogo walked away from the Beira-Rio with an incredible 2-1 win over title contenders Internacional whilst Fluminense beat newly promoted Portuguesa 4-1 at the Engenhão Stadium in Rio.
Flamengo managed to beat a Santos reserve side and Vasco dropped their first points of the season against Palmeiras. Despite the draw, they remain two points ahead of second placed Cruzeiro after Atlético-MG lost 1-0 to São Paulo.
Botafogo came from behind to end Inter’s unbeaten streak and stop the rot after two successive defeats. Coach Oswaldo de Oliveira chose a midfield trio of Vítor Júnior, Andrezinho and Fellype Gabirel and from the off the Alvinegro controlled the midfield.
But despite their good start they fell behind on the half-hour, Oscar and Leandro Damião combining to provide Dagoberto with a simple header. The goal forced Fogo to raise their game and after the break they moved into fifth gear.
Vítor Júnior was the team’s engine, and it was he who set up Andrezinho for the equalizer on 57 minutes. Goal scorer would soon turn provider as the comeback was complete. Andrezinho swung in a corner and Fellype Gabriel rose highest to head the winner.
A magnificent show from Deco drove Fluminense to a 4-1 over Portuguesa. The veteran made three assists as Flu came away with the points. The game was hardly setting paces racing until Wellington Nem gave Nense the lead on 41 minutes. After the break, the Deco show commenced.
Anderson nodded in his corner on 52 minutes before Ricardo Jesus pulled one back for Portuguesa. The boldness of the visitors swelled with the reply but the quality of their play couldn’t convert possession into danger.
Deco continued his playmaker’s masterclass with a beautiful through ball for Fred, who finished with aplomb. And the rout was complete four minutes from time, when one more pinpoint pass gave Lanzini the fourth.
A dreadul display from Flamengo was masked by the narrowest of 1-0 victories over Santos. Despite amassing nine points the Rubro-Negro have yet to put in a convincing performance to quell the fans.
The match was heading for a draw when, five minutes from time, Ibson was felled by Wellington Silva inside the box. Bottinelli bravely stepped up, after Renato had initially refused, and with precision struck the winning goal.
One point was enough for Vasco to maintain their two point lead at the top. Juninho Pernambucano was the savior, equalizing with another free-kick after the Cariocas had fallen behind.
The Cruz-Maltinos have thirteen points and now have the comfort of successive home games to try and build on their advantage, against Cruziero and Ponte Preta. Vasco were able to count on their full-strength side for the first time in the Brasileirão.
Dedé, Fágner and Rômulo all came back into the line-up, but Dedé’s lack of match sharpness was exposed as Mazinho evaded him to open the scoring. Vasco struggled to find their rhythm in the first half, the only chance of note coming from Rõmulo who stung the palms of Bruno.
They came out fighting after the interval. Diego Souza and Felipe went close but as the clock wore down it looked like Vasco were luckless.
That is until Henrique handballed just outside his own area and Juninho powered in his third goal of the season. Six minutes later, Alecsandro’s header was disallowed for offside, but a draw was enough to keep their advantage at the summit.