By Nelson Belen, Contributing Reporter
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – It was a busy weekend for local football (soccer) fans as Rio de Janeiro’s biggest clubs saw action in the fifth round of the 2018 Taça Rio, the second stage of the 2018 Campeonato Carioca state tournament.
Flamengo, with its place in the Campeonato Carioca semifinals already set and with one eye turned towards the Copa Libertadores, fielded a team of reserves against Macaé on Saturday, March 10th. As a result, the Rubro-Negra were blanked 1-0 with Macaé’s Lepu scoring the game’s only goal. The win marked the first-ever win for Macaé over Flamengo.
Vasco, also guaranteed a spot in the semis, spared many of its starters on Saturday as well, but still had enough firepower to beat Madureira 3-1, thanks to goals from Evander, Andrés Ríos and Rildo.
As the top two clubs in Group B with only one more round to go, both Flamengo and Vasco are confirmed for the Taça Rio semi-finals.
In addition, following the Taça Rio, Flamengo has a guaranteed spot in the Campeonato Carioca semi-finals as the club won the first stage of the tournament, the Taça Guanabara, on February 18th.
On Sunday, March 11th, Botafogo played well but could do no better than a 1-1 draw against Volta Redonda on Sunday, March 11th. Both goals came in the first half. The draw was a frustrating one for Botafogo as it keeps the club out of the qualifying zone for Taça Rio semi-finals.
Also on Sunday, iconic Maracanã Stadium opened its doors after almost two months without a match as Fluminense faced off against Nova Iguaçu. Flu scored two goals in the first twenty minutes, from Pedro and Reginaldo, and held on for the 2-1 victory. Thanks to the win, the club guaranteed itself a spot in the Campeonato Carioca semi-finals.
The Campeonato Carioca tournament is comprised of sixteen football clubs from across Rio de Janeiro state. There are three stages of the competition: the Taça Guanabara, the Taça Rio, and the tournament semis and finals. The winners of the Taça Guanabara and the Taça Rio are guaranteed a spot in the Campeonato Carioca semi-finals.