By Nelson Belen, Contributing Reporter
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – With only seven more weeks to go in the 2016 Campeonato Brasileiro (Brasileirão) Série A, round 31 kicked off on Sunday, October 16th, with the league’s two top teams seeing action. Rio’s CR Flamengo was unable to keep pace with league leader Palmeiras, losing 2×1 to Internacional, while Palmeiras increased its lead over the Rubro-Negra with a 2×1 win over Figueirense.
Though few victories have come easy for Flamengo this season, being only one point out of first place and facing an Inter club mired near relegation territory, Nação Rubro-Negra (Flamengo fans) had high hopes for the visiting team entering Sunday’s match.
But, for the first 45 minutes those hopes did not match up with reality as the first half closed in lackluster fashion, with neither club able to mount an effective offensive possession.
In the second half, Flamengo finally broke through at the 59-minute mark when a Diego free kick led to a Réver header from five yards out for the game’s first goal. It was an especially satisfying goal for Réver who is on loan to Flamengo from Inter after losing his spot on Inter’s first team squad earlier in the season.
Flamengo’s lead would be short-lived, however, as nine minutes later, Eduardo Sasha’s volley off a header from Rodrigo Dourado found the back of the net to tie the game at 1×1.
Sasha’s goal rattled the Rubro-Negra who were on their heels the rest of the game. After Flamengo keeper Muralha failed to secure an Inter shot attempt, Vitinho pounced on the loose ball with a rocket counter-attack goal at the 68th minute to secure the 2×1 upset victory for the home team.
At the same time that Flamengo was having its problems with Inter, pouring rain showers could not stop first place Palmeiras from taking care of business against home team Figueirense. Thanks to a dominant performance from defender Jean Raphael Vanderlei Moreira, known simply as Jean, who scored both goals for Palmeiras, the club was able to escape Florianópolis with the 2×1 win.
With the club’s victory, coupled with Flamengo’s loss, at time of writing, the top four in the Brasileirão table has Palmeiras leading the field with 64 points, followed by Flamengo with 60 points, Atlético Mineiro is next with 56 points, and finally Santos with 55 points.