By Robbie Blakeley, Senior Contributing Reporter
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – There were mixed results for Rio’s big four as the Taça Rio, the state tournament 2012 Campeonato Carioca’s second half, kicked off last week. Last Wednesday, Flamengo and Fluminense both lost to inferior opposition, whilst Vasco let a two goal lead slip.
But in the second round over the weekend there were no such surprises as all four sides picked up three points. Vasco and Fluminense already occupy the top two positions in Group B, whilst Flamengo lie in 4th place in Group A after falling to Boavista on Wednesday.
Fluminense, the 2012 Taça Guanabara 2012 champions had the worst possible start to the Taça Rio, losing 2-1 to Resende. Rafael Sóbis had equalized for the Laranjeiras outfit after they had fallen behind, but their defensive frailties were exposed yet again as they conceded a careless winner in the second half.
It was business as usual on Saturday as Flu comprehensively dispatched Nova Iguaçu 3-0. With one eye on tonight’s (Wednesday) huge Copa Libertadores game against Boca Juniors, Abel Braga selected a mixed side, with Sóbis again starring, bagging a brace.
Guanabara finalists Vasco also got off to an underwhelming start in the Taça Rio, allowing Bonsuccesso to draw 2-2 after trailing by two goals. But like Fluminense they set matters straight on Saturday with a comfortable 2-0 win over Olaria.
The match saw the welcome return of striker Eder Luis, who marked his comeback with the second goal. Ecuadorian striker Tenorio, who arrived in January, hit the first to put the São Januário outfit at the top of Group B but will now miss the next six months after damaging the Achilles tendon in his right foot.
The first round continued to shock as Flamengo fell 2-1 to Boavista. Vagner Love gave the Rubro-Negro the lead after just five minutes, but it wasn’t enough as the underdogs turned the game on its head through a Somália penalty and a Paulo Rodrigues strike.
Normal service resumed on Sunday however as Flamengo beat Duque de Caxias 2-1. In a scrappy game best remembered for Flamengo goalkeeper Felipe leaving in an ambulance after a clash of heads, Ronaldinho struck late on from the penalty spot to seal the points.
Like Flu and Vasco, Flamengo had one eye on this week’s Libertadores game. Mengão face Emelec, from Ecuador, tomorrow (Thursday) and no player wanted to risk injury before such a pivotal contest.
Botafogo, alongside Macaé, managed to take six points from their opening two Taça Rio matches. On Thursday, they survived a scare against Americano, winning 4-2 after falling behind after only eight minutes.
And on Sunday the Alvinegro comfortably saw off Volta Redona 3-1 in the São Januário. They controlled the play and could have won by a wider margin had they been more prolific in front of goal.
Herrera put them ahead after a quarter of an hour, before a poorly dealt with corner saw Jefferson spill the ball over the goal-line for the equalizer five minutes before the break. Volta proved a tough nut to crack in the second half, but Botafogo’s persistence finally paid off when Herrera headed in.
Defender Antônio Carlos made sure of the points at the death. The result put Botafogo ahead of Macaé on goal difference at the top of Group A.