By Nelson Belen, Contributing Reporter
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – Big night for local football (soccer) fans on Wednesday (August 23rd) with Flamengo battling crosstown rivals Botafogo for a spot in the 2017 Copa do Brasil Finals. It was an intense back-and-forth battle both on and off the field
A sold-out Maracanã stadium was the site of the showdown between two of Rio’s biggest clubs in what was the second leg of the tournament semifinals.
Last Wednesday, August 16th, the two clubs fought to a scoreless draw that saw both clubs fail to capitalize on critical scoring chances.
The first period of last night’s match seemed like a continuation of the first match with neither team able to get on the scoreboard despite great opportunities from their top scorers.
In the opening stages, Botafogo missed on a huge early chance when Guilherme launched a header that sailed just over the net. On the other end, a fantastic save from Botafogo keeper Gatito saved what looked to be a sure goal for Flamengo from Guerrero.
After a frustrating first period for both sides, the second period began with more of the same as, right out of the gate, Willian Arão missed on a header that drifted a hair wide.
Finally, at the 25-minute mark of the second period, after nearly three and half periods of scoreless action in total, the Rubro-Negra broke through. Berrío raced down from the right side setting up Diego for the beautiful shot that snuck just past a diving Gatito.
As the clock wound down, Botafogo’s chances of tying the game slipped away and with the closing whistle, the thousands of Flamengo fans in Maracanã were sent into mass hysteria.
With the win, the Rubro-Negra will now face off against Cruzeiro in the 2017 Copa do Brasil Finals. Cruzeiro defeated Copa do Brasil defending champs Grêmio on penalty kicks in last night’s other semifinal.
The 2017 Copa do Brasil Finals are scheduled to take place on September 7th and 27th.
The Copa do Brasil is a knockout soccer tournament that includes 91 clubs from across Brazil competing in a series of home-away matches beginning in March through September.