By Jayme Monsanto, Contributing Reporter
RIO DE JANEIRO – Three Carioca teams had reached the Copa do Brasil quarter-finals stage, but only one of them succeeded in advancing to the next round.
The Flamengo squad was eliminated by Internacional, while Fluminense were beaten by Corinthians, leaving just Vasco da Gama to represent Rio in the competition. In the fourth match Coritiba defeated Ponte Preta and will join Inter, Corinthians and Vasco in the semis.
As in the previous week, Flamengo were the better team but failed to defeat their opponents. The second leg match was played on May 20th in the Beira Rio Stadium, but it was the away team that mounted most of the pressure. An error by midfielder Juan proved costly in the 42nd minute however, giving the ball away to Nilmar, one of Inter’s strikers. The player passed to teammate Taison, who beat Bruno in the Flamengo goal with ease.
In the second half the Carioca team kept up the fight, and in the 74th minute striker Emerson managed to score the equalizer. The 1 x 1 draw would have been enough to grant Flamengo the spot in the semis on the away goal rule, and the team only had to hold on for another 15 minutes for the final whistle, but an 88th minute foul just outside Bruno’s penalty area broke the visitors’ hearts. Andrézinho, himself a former Flamengo player, fired home the free kick to make it 2 x 1 and send Inter’s fans wild.
Fluminense had lost the first match against Corinthians 1 x 0 in an away game in the Pacaembu Stadium, but playing at home in front of a Maracanã Stadium packed with more than 65.000 fans gave the Carioca team a big morale boost. The squad entered the field with great expectations, but in the first half Corinthians opened up an early two goal advantage with goals by Chicão and Jorge Henrique to all but kill the game. Not until the second half did the home side react and finally managed to tie the score at 2 x 2 with goals by Alan and Thiago Neves, but, needing to score two more to go through, the task was simply too great and the match petered out into a depressing finale for the home crowd.
Vasco meanwhile had won their first leg match 4 x 0, and in order to advance in the competition only had to avoid losing to by a sizable and unlikely margin. Vitória scored in the first minute of the match though to give them a serious fright, but the Cariocas responded well and tied three minutes later to dissolve their opponents burgeoning hopes. After that, Vasco calmly maintained the status quo until the referee’s final whistle and the team advanced to the semis.
Vasco will play Corinthians on May 27th and June 3rd in the semi-finals, with the first leg being at home in Rio. Due to the size of the game and the lack of another Rio team in the semis, the match will be played at The Maracana and is likely to be a sell out, with 85,000 the capacity instead of the 18,000 at their Sao Januario stadium. In the second semi-final Internacional will host Coritiba on the same day.
The dates of the final’s two matches were also announced by the tournament’s organization this week and will be held June 17th and July 1st.