By Matthew Burgess, Contributing Reporter
RIO DE JANEIRO – Now third in the Brasileirão, Fluminense were the main benefactors of the championship’s additional midweek round, recording a hugely important win over arch-rivals Flamengo in the Fla-Flu derby. Meanwhile, Botafogo and Vasco played out a 1-1 tie, as the two clashed at the Engenhão stadium on Sunday evening.
Fluminense 2-1 Flamengo
As Flamengo fans mourned the absence of Roma-bound Adriano, Fluminense took advantage via one of their own hero’s, Dario Conca, who ran the show for the Tricolor in the midweek Fla-Flu clássico.
Fluminense’s return to form began inside ten minutes as Conca dribbled past two players to feed the ball through to Rodriguinho, who neatly scored his first goal for the club. Ten minutes into the second half, Fluminense made their superiority count again with Conca’s fierce shot from the edge of the box and though the ten-man Rubro-Negro did manage a consolation via goalkeeper Bruno’s well struck free kick, the result never looked in doubt.
Vasco 3-2 Internacional
In the week that saw a supporter’s group storm a training session to protest about recent results, Vasco found themselves under intense pressure ahead of last Thursday‘s visit of Internacional to the São Januário, and Andrezinho’s first half double for the visitors compounded matters. Just five minutes after the break, however, Elton’s glorious turn and half volley from outside the box breathed new life into the Gigante da Colina.
Vasco gained further momentum when Fabiano Eller was dismissed for Inter, and they were given the opportunity to equalize after Ernani was awarded a penalty. Philippe Coutinho ‘s coolly dispatched penalty drew Vasco level in the 78th minute and they then completed a remarkable comeback when Nilton unleashed a powerful drive into the top hand corner on 84 minutes for a desperately needed win.
Cruzeiro 1-0 Botafogo
Botafogo suffered their first defeat in this year’s championship after being a dealt a 1-0 defeat away to Cruzeiro. The match was always going to be a testing fixture for the Alvinegro who traveled without all three of their main strikers, Abreu, Herrera and Caio, and Thiago Ribeiro’s first half strike was enough to earn the home side the win.
Flamengo 1-1 Grêmio
Stung by the defeat to Fluminense days earlier, Flamengo were boosted by the news that the ever-popular Petkovic will be remaining with the club until 2011. The midfielder returned to the side in style too, rounding off a neat passage of play to put his team ahead on eight minutes. Vágner Love, who Flamengo also face a battle to keep hold of, had chances to double their advantage, but it was Grêmio who leveled through the head of defender Rodrigo early in the second half and they then squandered a host of chances in the second half to keep the scoreline even.
Atlético-MG 1-3 Fluminense
Fluminense continued their mini-revival in round five, with a first away-win against Atlético-MG in Belo Horizonte. Atlético went in front after just two minutes as Muriqui slid in to convert from close range, but just after the hour mark Fluminense struck twice in close succession and raced into the lead with first Gum heading in from a corner, then substitute Alan finishing from a narrow angle. Fred put the result beyond doubt after being put through on goal on 90 minutes, to cap another impressive win for the Laranjeiras-based outfit.
Botafogo 1-1 Vasco
Botafogo were able to field strike duo Herrera and Caio for Sunday’s Clássico Alvinegro, whilst Vasco were looking for a second successive win, and with both teams going close to breaking the deadlock early on, referee Carlos Eugênio Simon controversially ruled out a Botafogo penalty after Lúcio Flávio was tripped inside the box.
On 27 minutes Vasco took the lead as Ernani finished past Jefferson following his run into the box, but Botafogo did not have to wait long for the opportunity to level as Nilton handled inside the area to concede a penalty, which Herrera converted on 35 minutes. Despite Jéferson having a goal ruled out for Vasco early into the second half, neither team were able to make the breakthrough, and a lukewarm derby finished one apiece.
This week see’s the sixth and seventh rounds of the Campeonato Brasileiro before the competition breaks for the World Cup until mid July. In the pick of the week’s fixtures, Flamengo are at Palmeiras on Wednesday night whilst Santos host Vasco this coming Sunday.