By Doug Gray, Contributing Reporter
RIO DE JANEIRO – All three Rio teams failed to shine in the second round of this year’s Serie A competition, unable to score a single goal between them in three dismal nil-nil draws.
Fluminense can at least take solace from the fact they were playing away from home, sparing their fans their toothless performance and grabbing a point to keep them in sixth place in the table. Botafogo’s draw against Corinthians was more a matter of excellent goalkeeping than poor attacking and leaves them in 13th, while Flamengo’s lack of goals is getting serious, having not found the target in nearly 300 minutes of football, and are now just one spot from the bottom of the league.
Flamengo 0 x 0 Avai: The Serie A newcomers from Santa Catarina played a defensive game and were unmoved by the baying crowd inside Rio’s Maracana Stadium, and almost grabbed all three points just before the final whistle. Flamengo were happy to start patiently as their opponents got bodies behind the ball, but as the game wore on the fans’ frustration grew, and every wayward pass was met with increasing disapproval. Leo Moura hit the bar with a fine free kick as the first half drew to a close and Flamengo’s dominance went unrewarded.
In the second period Flamengo striker Josiel was guilty of wasting several good chances and Bruno had to be alert to palm away a plucky effort from the visitors before almost getting dispossessed right in front of his goal. Indeed he was the busier of the two keepers towards the end, making up for that error with a handful of fine stops in the last ten minutes to spare the team’s blushes.
Barueri 0 x 0 Fluminense: With an eye on their Copa do Brasil game this Wednesday Fluminense rested several first team regulars for the trip to Sao Paulo and another newly-promoted team Barueri. The result was a scrappy game notable largely for the lack of creativity on display from both sets of players. Indeed it wasn’t until the 40th minute that the first good chance fell to the visitors but Dieguinho’s close range effort was well saved by the goalkeeper Rene.
The Sao Paulo outfit were much improved early in the second half and Fernando Henrique had to be alert in goal, but the final half hour belonged to Fluminense, having a clutch of good efforts saved and even a goal disallowed near the end for a close offside decision.
Botafogo 0 x 0 Corinthians: The visitors took no chances against Botafogo at Rio’s Engenhao Stadium having rested several stars for the first round defeat to Internacional. That meant Ronaldo starting in attack, but he was easily handled by the Carioca side’s defense. Victor Simoes almost pulled off a spectacular overhead kick that rolled just wide of the post after five minutes. Shortly afterward, Ronaldo in his indomitable style collected the ball at pace inside the area but his quick feet for once sent the ball fractionally wide.
If the first half petered out into a midfield battle, the second also failed to lift the home fans, with Felipe in the opposing goal determined to keep out the occasional half chances that were created, including a full length save from a 40 yard Juninho free kick. The biggest cheer of the night was reserved for Renan as he denied Ronaldo in a one-on-one, smothering the ball with ease at the feet of the legendary forward.
Next Sunday in the third round of the competition Fluminense will host Santos at The Maracana while Flamengo travel to Sao Paulo to take on Santo Andre hoping to grab their first win of the season. Botafogo, meanwhile, will take a trip south to Porto Alegre to face Gremio, last year’s runners up in the league.