By Robbie Blakeley, Senior Contributing Reporter
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – Vasco and Ponte Preta drew 0-0 Saturday (July 26th) afternoon at the Moisés Lucarelli Stadium in the Campeonato Brasileiro Série B. In a poor game, the home side almost snatched the points at the death, but Cafu’s shot bounced back off the woodwork.
But a point apiece was a fair result. Vasco had been the better side in the first half, while Ponte Preta replied after the interval as Vasco couldn’t maintain their pressure.
For the Rio club, though, it was further frustration. Looking to bounce back to Série A, the Brazilian top flight, at the first time of asking following relegation in December, the Cruz-Maltino sit in eleventh place, seven spots and four points below the promotion places.
The match was hindered by the midfield struggle between the two teams. Too often proceedings became bogged down in the middle of the park and slick build-up play became impossible at times.
Each side played with three holding midfielders in an alarmingly negative move, and the tempo of the play was slow in the extreme. The respective playmakers, Adrianinho and Douglas, barely got a look in to play incisive passes to the attack.
Fabrício went close with a long range effort for the Cariocas in the first half before Aranda sent a header wide of the post. For Ponte Preta, the one time Adrianinho got on the ball he released Rafael Costa, but Vasco stopper Martin Silva made the save.
In the second half, Ponte coach Parraga sent on forward Cafu to give his side a more attacking edge. The ploy worked, with the home team dominating after the interval. Cafu made an enormous difference, constantly moving from a target position to one of the flanks, lending more pace to the team’s front line. Striker Alexandro also entered and promptly missed two chances to give Ponte Preta the lead.
Meanwhile, Vasco’s attack looked lethargic by comparison, with Kleber and Thalles making little impact. There was almost no counter-attacking action, and their poor second half performance almost cost them a point when Cafu sent a shot against the crossbar.
Read more (in Portuguese).
* The Rio Times Daily Updates feature is offered to help keep you up-to-date with important news as it happens.