By Doug Gray, Contributing Reporter
RIO DE JANEIRO – Flamengo fans continued to vent their anger on Sunday during a disappointing draw with struggling Nautico. Vociferously demanding more of their players – who returned the gestures with some choice ones of their own – the never-ending demand from supporters for the league title looks an increasingly impossible task.
Meanwhile Botafogo have put together enough of a run of form to alleviate their precarious position of a few weeks ago, and Fluminense drop deeper and deeper into trouble, having drawn three and lost eight in their last eleven matches.
Atletico-PR 1 x 0 Fluminense
Though the players are cursing their bad luck and a host of injury and suspension problems, no excuses can hide the fact that after another lackluster performance on Sunday the team are bottom of the league. The club is five points from safety and looking unlikely to be able to perform the miraculous escape of last season’s relegation battle. Renato Gaucho was the man who put them in that position last year, and was inexplicably re-recruited to lead them out of it this year.
Keeper Fernando Henrique suffered an injury midway through the first half which could prove costly. He was taken off at half time shortly after a stunning free kick from Paulo Baier had given the home team the lead. Alan and Mauricio were brought off the bench and the former looked lively in attack, but there was still no way through for the Tricolor. An incredible save from Atletico’s Calatto right at the death kept Fluminense from stealing a point.
Flamengo 1 x 1 Nautico
With Cuca finally given his marching orders as coach, Andrade has been appointed to the position full time. He has a huge task ahead of him this season if the side is to win over their angry fans. Leonardo Moura led the gestures against the crowds on Sunday. The winger who has been a loyal Flamengo soldier for so long looks to be coming to the end of his patience.
The problems began midway through the first half when former bottom-placed club Nautico took the lead through striker Gilmar and the 40,000 strong crowd turned on their players. Few on the team looked capable of providing the necessary spark of creativity to get them back in the game. It was Moura who was again called upon to rescue the situation, scoring with less than ten minutes left. The fact that he responded to the goal by swearing at the supporters shows just how fraught the club’s situation has become.
Botafogo 2 x 1 Barueri
Andre Lima has proven to be the talisman they hoped he would, helping Botafogo turn their season around after his arrival from São Paulo last month. Since then the team has managed three wins and three draws, and his three goals have been instrumental in that impressive run of form. It was a timely last minute winner that secured another win against Barueri on Saturday, hauling the team up to thirteenth position in the table.
The win wasn’t entirely deserved, with the disorganized home side lacking any real creative instinct, but they took the lead late in the first half with an Andre Lima tap in. It was all-square again before half time however, with Marcio Careca thumping home the ball from the edge of the area. Lima had other ideas, and deep into injury time he struck from fifteen yards out to make it 2 x 1 and send the home fans wild.
This week sees Botafogo travel to reigning champions São Paulo, never an easy place to get points, and Flamengo go to Goias in form, grateful of some respite from their vitriolic home fans. Fluminense will have an opportunity to arrest their slide and claw off the bottom of the league when they entertain Sport Recife at the Maracanã on Thursday.