By Doug Gray, Contributing Reporter
RIO DE JANEIRO – Despite all the pre-match hype, the first Classico of the 2009 season between Flamengo and Fluminense finished goalless, damaging both sides’ aspirations of creeping into the top four after eight rounds.
Flamengo sits in seventh in the rankings, with Fluminense dropping to thirteenth and Botafogo slumped to the foot of the table, crashing to a 1 x 4 home defeat to Goias.
Fluminense 0 x 0 Flamengo: Both goalkeepers were kept busy throughout the game, but blame must lie at the feet of the strikers for squandering several good chances and keeping the score goalless. It was Bruno for Flamengo who was called into action first, keeping out Edcarlos’ shot, before Berna, Fluminense’s new first choice number one, stopped Everton’s progress. Flamengo were clearly struggling to create any meaningful attacks though, and last weekend’s hat-trick hero Adriano was kept quiet up front, easily dealt with by the Flu defense.
Fred had a good chance immediately after the break but couldn’t find the target with his shot. Last ditch defending by Edcarlos and Luiz Alberto prevented Flamengo from opening the scoring midway through the second half as they began to find some rhythm. In Thiago Neves’ final game for the Tricolor he and Conca again failed to gel in midfield. This allowed Ibson and Emerson through time and again, though Berna remained strong in goal.
As the final whistle drew closer the best chance of the game fell to Adriano after more good work by Ibson. As the ball rolled across the area and with an open goal beckoning, he somehow skewed the ball wide of the near post. His move summed up a poor night’s football for a lively Maracana crowd.
Botafogo 1 x 4 Goias: Goias were ruthless at the Engenhao Stadium on Saturday, delivering a heavy blow to a Botafogo side already enduring talk of a crisis at the club and sparking protests by the fans throughout the game. With supporters demanding a more passionate display from their team, any added determination in the players was seemingly undone by nerves and they rarely looked comfortable on the ball.
Only some fine work by Renan in goal kept the visitors at bay, but there was little he could do about the opening goal. After 24 minutes the ball fell to Felipe Menezes in the box and he drilled the ball home.
Botafogo were spurred on by the goal, however. Within ten minutes they were level after a stunning overhead volley by Victor Simoes once more fell behind before half time after giving away a cheap penalty which Felipe calmly slotted home.
Botafogo never got back into the game. Some sloppy defending twelve minutes into the second half gifted Rafael a well-taken goal and the team was visibly accepting defeat. Poor marking and weak tackling at the back three minutes later saw Iarley receive the ball inside the area. He tucked the ball into the far corner to make it 4 x 1. It was a thoroughly depressing night’s work for the Carioca side and their fans, who will continue to call for their coach’s head throughout the week at training.
The ninth round of the 2009 Serie A will see Botafogo travel to Minas Gerias to take on league leaders Atletico-MG. Flamengo host Vitoria at the Maracana on Sunday. Fluminense will have to wait until the following Wednesday for their next match away to Corinthians. The São Paulo team knocked them out of the Copa do Brasil last month.