By Nelson Belen, Contributing Reporter
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – On Sunday, June 18th, Rio arch rivals Flamengo and Fluminense faced off in the eighth round of the Campeonato Brasileiro (Brasileirão), Série A, at iconic Maracanã Stadium. In an intense and emotional battle, a last minute goal from Miguel Trauco saved the Rubro-Negra from certain defeat, securing the 2-2 draw.
Despite inexperience in the net, Flamengo boasts one of the deepest lineups in Brazil, with the recent signings of Rhodolfo and Éverton Ribeiro, and the return of Paolo Guerrero and Miguel Trauco from international duty. The return of Trauco from Peru would loom especially large in Sunday’s game.
On the other hand, a series of injuries to key players, including Wellington Silva, Douglas and Luiz Fernando, left Fluminense coach Abel Braga with little more than a barebones squad to field against their cross-town rival.
In front of the forty thousand fans at Maracanã on Sunday, Flamengo took the initiative early on but were unable to capitalize. Flu sat back looking to counterattack and the strategy paid off. At the 37-minute mark, Wendel missed on the close range shot but knocked in his own rebound for the game’s first score.
Despite being down, the Rubro-Negra kept the pressure on in the second period. Flamengo finally got on the scoreboard in the 55th minute when Diego scored, also off a rebound, to tie the game 1-1.
The physical back-and-forth battle continued well into the second period when Flamengo defender Juan brought down a streaking Richarlison in the penalty box. Henrique Dourado easily scored on the ensuing penalty kick giving Fluminense the 2-1 lead in the 80th minute.
With regulation coming to an end, the game entered seven minutes of stoppage time, which would be just enough for the Rubro-Negra. As the clock wound down, Miguel Trauco, just back from a stint with home country Peru, launched a left-footed long-range shot from well beyond the penalty box.
The ball skipped past a sea of Flu defenders and bounced past a mesmerized César to tie the game 2-2 in the 49th minute, leaving Fluminense players and coach alike in stunned silence.
With the tie, both clubs have a total of eleven points and remain in the middle of the pack of the Brasileirão standings, with Fluminense in ninth and Flamengo in the tenth position.
Neither club will be able to dwell too much on Sunday’s match as both are back in action later this week for Round Nine of the Brasileirão.
Flamengo will meet 2016 Copa Sudamericana champions, Chapecoense, at Luso Brasileiro Stadium on Thursday, June 22nd. Meanwhile, Fluminense has a short three-day turnaround as the club travels to Florianópolis to face Avaí on Wednesday, June 21st.