By Robbie Blakeley, Senior Contributing Reporter
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – Fluminense missed out on the chance to lead the 2013 Campeonato Brasileiro after losing 2-1 to Portuguesa last night. The result means the 2012 champions remain in fourth place, two points off Coritiba in top spot.
Portuguesa also went into last night’s match needing victory. The Paulista club were in the relegation zone and three points would have seen the side climb out of the Z-4, as the four bottom clubs in the league are referred to.
Fluminense, meanwhile, were missing as many as nine first-team players. Cavalieri, Jean and Fred are all in the Brazil squad for the FIFA Confederations Cup.
Leandro Euzébio, Rhayner, Thiago Neves and Deco were also missing either through injury or suspension. Coach Abel Braga relied heavily on young players from the club’s Xerem academy, and despite the defeat, the youngsters equipped themselves well.
The game started slowly with neither side finding a way to break down the opposition defense. The play became condensed in midfield with only the occasional long shot to threaten the goal.
Nevertheless, it was a sensational long-range effort that would give Portuguesa the lead at 22 minutes. Souza jinked past Diguinho with ease before driving a 30-yard strike beyond Ricardo Berna in the Flu goal.
Fifteen minutes later, Rafael Sóbis responded with a long-range effort of his own. The ball dipped viciously over Gledson to bring the scores level.
In the second half, Flu looked the likelier side to snatch victory but sorely missed number nine, Fred, so decisive in front of goal. Eduardo and Denílson, still both in their teens, failed to show the same level of consistency in attack.
This meant Flu were made to pay just seven minutes before the final whistle. Rogério crossed from the left and Diogo headed the game’s winner to send the home fans into rapture.
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