By Robbie Blakeley, Senior Contributing Reporter
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – Cris’s first goal for Vasco was enough to beat Fluminense 1-0 last night in the 26th round of the Campeonato Brasileiro. The defender’s eleventh minute header gave the Cruz-Maltino all three points and meant the club have now gone four games without a loss, but it was not enough to take them out of the relegation zone after São Paulo beat Cruzeiro 2-0.
Defeat for Fluminense meant they are still far from safe following two losses on the bounce. With twelve rounds left to play, the Laranjeiras club are just two points above the drop zone and face a tricky encounter with second-placed Grêmio at the Maracanã on Saturday.
The game’s only goal arrived early. Marlone swung in a free-kick and Cris rose, unmarked, to head the ball past a helpless Klever. Francismar could have doubled the lead ten minutes later but hit the woodwork.
Flu had chances to equalize. Rhayner found Wagner but the midfielder could not find the target. Coach Vanderlei Luxemburgo looked on in despair as he served the final part of a two-game touchline ban for verbally abusing a referee.
After the interval, Fluminense switched to a 3-5-2 formation and Vasco coach Dorival Júnior brought on Willie to lend his side added danger on the counter-attack. Fluminense threatened with a long-range effort from Rafael Sóbis, but his shot whistled wide of the post.
Vasco goalkeeper Diogo Silva kept the Flu attack at bay as Sóbis, Jean and Wagner all went close to leveling. When the referee blew for time, the players celebrated euphorically. As the season enters the final third, Vasco are finding form at the right time.
In Recife, Botafogo came from behind to beat bottom club Náutico 3-1. Maikon Leite gave the home side the lead, while Rafael Marques and Seedorf turned the game around before half-time. Gegê added a third in injury-time.
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