By Robbie Blakeley, Senior Contributing Reporter
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – Vasco and Botafogo picked up three points in the 21st round of the 2012 Brasileirão to reverse a run of bad form. Meanwhile, Fluminense let a two goal lead slip to once again throw away the chance to go top and Flamengo were thrashed in Porto Alegre.
Vasco’s attacking partnership of Alecsandro and Tenorio gelled well on Saturday as each bagged a goal in the Cruz-Maltino’s 2-0 win over Portuguesa at São Januário. The victory came as a welcome relief to everyone at the club, stopping a string of three defeats on the bounce.
Vasco had to overcome the skepticism of fans, who showed their dissatisfaction with recent results in numbers. Only 2,500 turned up to watch on Saturday.
But Alecsandro, who hadn’t found the back of the net in over six weeks, headed the opener on 36 minutes, ending an eight game goal drought.
Three minutes later the visitors were reduced to ten men when Valdomiro was shown a straight red for an elbow on Dedé. Portuguesa tried to press but Tenorio doubled Vasco’s lead before the hour and the points were safe.
Fluminense thought their points were safe too after opening a two goal advantage against Figueirense, but a lack of concentration allowed the relegation threatened side to salvage a 2-2 draw. Digão and Rafael Sóbis scored for Flu in the first seven minutes of the second half but Abel was reluctant to build on that lead.
The decision to take off Wellington Nem to bring on a holding midfielder may have cost the side two valuable points as they handed the initiative to Figueirense. They remain level with leaders Atlético-MG, who lost 2-1 to Corinthians. Atlético also have a game in hand.
Things also went downhill for Flamengo after they were dispatched 4-1 by Internacional. Vagner Love had given the Rubro-Negro the lead but Diego Forlan, with his first goals for his new club, helped launch the comeback with a brace.
Despite going in front Flamengo never looked a match for Inter as they misplaced passes and looked off the pace, no match for the hunger and determination of a side who had gone four games without a win.
Inter’s attacking trio of dÁlessandro, Damião and Forlan ran rings around Fla’s defense, which looked worryingly out of its depth against top-class talent. The home side were awarded far too much space in which to create chances, which they took with ruthless precision.
Inter had already made it 2-1 before half-time and Forlan sealed the points in the second half after Ibson’s poorly placed free-kick allowed Inter to counter. There was still time for a fourth as Léo Moura, who is looking increasingly legless in the Flamengo defense, lost Damião who put the icing on the cake.
There was finally some good news for Botafogo as they comfortably saw off Coritiba 2-0 at the Engenhão. Like Vasco, Botafogo are feeling the wrath of their supporters and subsequently made a nervous start. Renato missed a good chance on twelve minutes before Elkeson headed the opener from Lodeiro’s cross.
On twenty minutes Botafogo were awarded a penalty after Urso tripped Renato in the box. Elkeson stepped up but the number nine’s spot-kick was weak and Vanderlei saved with ease. His miss was not costly however as Lodeiro put the game beyond the visitors. The Uruguayan converted Lucas’ cross to score his first goal for the club.