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By Robbie Blakeley, Contributing Reporter

RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – Flamengo, Botafogo and Fluminense all maintained perfect records after rounds three and four of the first stage of the 2011 Campeonato Carioca. But a slow start for Vasco went from bad to worse over the last seven days, as they slipped to their fourth successive defeat of the campaign against Flamengo on Sunday night, eliminating them from the Guanabara Cup.

Thiago Neves scored his first goal for Flamengo on Sunday against Vasco, photo from AgenciaFla.

Flamengo comfortably brushed aside Americano on Wednesday to win 2-0 in the Engenhão, with Wanderley grabbing the headlines with both goals. The striker came on in the seventeenth minute to replace the injured Egidio, and showed Luxemburgo why he should be in the starting line-up with an authoritative performance.

On Sunday, Flamengo eliminated Vasco from the Taca Guanabara with a 2-1 victory. Deivid gave the Rubro Negro the lead midway through the first half, turning in Thiago Neves’ low cross, before the midfielder scored a sublime goal to double their lead just before half-time.

Renato chipped the ball over the Vasco defence for Neves to run onto, who then calmly lifted the ball over Vasco keeper Fernando Prass and put it into the unguarded net. Vasco pulled a goal back fifteen minutes from time through Romulo, and despite dominating possession in the final minutes never created any clear cut chances to threaten the Flamengo goal.

The defeat capped a miserable start to 2011 for Vasco, who had lost 3-1 to Boavista in midweek, and now find themselves waiting for the second stage of the championship to start before they can register any kind of success.

Carrying on from last week, Botafogo put four past Madureira on Wednesday night, albeit in an unconvincing performance. Joel Santana’s side again started sluggishly taking an hour to break down a stubborn defense, when Herrera opened the scoring from close range, before Loco Abreu made it 2-0 from the penalty spot. In the final ten minutes, Alessandro and Caio added gloss to an otherwise unimpressive display, which nevertheless left them top of Group B on goal difference.

Loco Abreu continued his own good form on Sunday, scoring two in Botafogo’s victory over Olaria. The Uruguayan was at the heart of everything Botafogo created, and with playmaker Somalia positioned just behind him, their inventive presence was too much for a limited Olaria side, who went down 3-1.

Fred celebrates the first of his strikes against Cabofriense, photo by Wallace Teixeira/photocamera.

Fluminense are level on points with Botafogo at the top of Group B after winning four in four. On Thursday, they overcame Macae in the Engenhão 3-1, despite Fred missing a penalty. New goalkeeper Diego Cavalieri, who arrived from Premiership side Liverpool, made his debut, and Souza scored twice to keep Fluminense tied with Botafogo on points.

On Sunday, the Tricolor were made to do it the hard way, coming from 2-1 down against Cabofriense to eventually win 4-2. Fred opened the scoring after six minutes, steering home a well worked free kick from close range.

But their hosts fought back, taking the lead early in the second half through goals from Capixaba and Diego Salles. Fluminense attacker Rodriguinho missed two golden chances to level the scores, before Andre Luis made amends midway through the second period, before Fred grabbed his fifth goal of the Carioca campaign so far, and Willians headed in Marquinho’s cross to put the result beyond doubt.

Campeonato Carioca
Campeonato Carioca ranking after Round Four.
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