By Robbie Blakeley, Senior Contributing Reporter
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – Clarence Seedorf, the Dutch former-AC Milan star who signed a two-year contract with Botafogo June 30th, brought the club a victory on the third try in the thirteenth round of the 2012 Brasileirão. The Glorioso were the only Carioca club to pick up all three points this weekend as Vasco and Fluminense both drew and Flamengo lost yet again.
Botafogo ended a four game winless streak with a 1-0 victory over Figueirense at the Engenhão Stadium. New number ten Seedorf put in his best performance for the club to date to help Fogo move onto twenty points as they continue their chase for a Libertadores place.
Oswaldo de Oliveira sent out an attacking side, with Elkeson and Rafael Marques as the two strikers, but it was the visitors who threatened first. Striker Aloíso went close twice in the first ten minutes, Jefferson making two good stops.
As the half progressed Seeforf began to emerge from his shell, setting up Elkeson who hit the post. After the interval Botafogo’s pressure intensified, forcing Figueirense to retreat. On the hour mark, their pressure told.
Andrezinho received the ball from Fellype Gabriel before seeing a deflected shot break the deadlock. The visitors tried to mount a response but it is no mystery that they have gone twelve games without a win; their lack of skill was painfully evident. Seedorf left the field a couple of minutes before the end to rapturous applause. The fans had recaptured the taste of victory.
A solid defensive performance helped Vasco earn a goalless draw away to Internacional. The result moved Vasco onto thirty points before next Sunday’s massive encounter against Corinthians at São Januário in Rio.
There was little technical quality on show as both sides scrapped in midfield. Vasco sorely missed the suspended Juninho Pernambucano, whose vision often unlocks doors others cannot see. Vasco’s greatest opportunity came towards full-time, Carlos Alberto going close after combining with Felipe, but coach Cristovão would be more than happy to leave the Beira-Rio with a point.
A bad linesman’s decision left Fluminense players revolted as they drew 0-0 with leaders Atlético-MG at the Engenhão. In a finely balanced encounter, Fred’s late strike was ruled out for offside when replays clearly showed the striker to be level with the last defender.
Goalkeeper Victor came to Atlético’s rescue on numerous occasions throughout the game as Flu pressed in vain for a winner in the second half. The visitors slightly edged the first without creating many chances of note.
As the referee blew the final whistle, some Tricolor players had to be pulled away from linesman Vicente Romano Neto, whose erroneous flag waving had cost them three points. The result means Flu stay six points off the top of the table.
There was more bad news for Flamengo as they were thrashed 4-1 by São Paulo at the Morumbí to leave Fla in a perilous situation. Emboldened by the return of club idol and goalkeeper Rogerio Ceni, the Paulistas never gave the Cariocas a chance as they ran riot.
Flamengo have now slipped into the bottom half of the table and are without a win in four matches. Next up for the Rubro-Negro is the daunting challenge of table-toppers Atlético-MG.
New coach Dorival Junior failed to make an impact as Mengão ceded far too much space in midfield and Jadson was given the freedom of the park. After assuming a two goal lead in the first half courtesy of Maicon and Luís Fabiano, São Paulo didn’t let up in the second.
There is a lot for Fla to correct in a short amount of time. As the final whistle blew, Dorival was left in no doubt as to the task he faces.