By Robbie Blakeley, Contributing Sports Reporter
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – Vasco edges up to second place on the rankings while Fluminense beat table toppers Corinthians on Sunday afternoon to record their fourth successive national Brasileirão tournament victory and move to within six points of the leaders. Recent form has been encouraging for Tricolores who had previously become impatient with results under Abel Braga.
There was disappointment elsewhere in Rio, as no other Carioca side managed a win on Sunday. After winning last Thursday, Vasco were held at Figueirense, Botafogo were thrashed by Coritiba, while Flamengo lost two games in a row to make it eight games without a win.
Juninho Pernambucano continues to defy age after playing another critical role for Vasco last Thursday in his team’s 2-0 victory over Coritiba at São Januario. The idol opened the scoring before providing the assist for Rômulo in a game that put Vasco within touching distance of first place.
But they slipped up at Figueirense, drawing 1-1. The Rio club fell behind in just the fourth minute when Wellington Nem volleyed home after a goalmouth scramble. Vasco quickly equalized when Fagner’s attempted cross found the far corner.
The Vascainos were left to curse their luck after goals from Elton and Diego Souza were incorrectly ruled out by official Nielson Dias; had either goal stood, Vasco would have found themselves sitting on the top of the pile and may lodge a complaint with the CBF against Dias’ incompetence.
While Vasco are looking skywards, Flamengo are in free fall, having now lost four in a row. Last Thursday, the Rubro Negro lost 2-1 to Corinthians in São Paulo after a shocking performance. Corinthians dominated the game from first whistle to last, and despite falling behind to a Deivid goal didn’t push the panic button, instead continuing to run rings around a clueless Mengão midfield.
The inevitable happened after the interval. Liedson equalized just after the hour when left free in the area to knock in Alessandro’s cross. But for goalkeeper Felipe’s heroics the result would have resembled a cricket score as Corinthians constantly battered the Flamengo goal.
And there was nothing Felipe could do when the winner came as the Corinthians attack exchanged passes before Liedson steered the ball past him two minutes from time.
But the capitulation on Sunday to Atletico-PR leaves their ability to challenge for the title in serious doubt. Flamengo lost 2-1 and looked bereft of belief and energy as their season begins to fade. Luxemburgo’s job hangs by a thread.
Against Coritiba, Botafogo fans were left in fury after a 5-0 humiliation. The Alvinegro came stuttering to a standstill, barely able to string passes together as the home side ran the show.
Emerson headed them into the lead just before half-time, before a penalty ten minutes into the second half effectively settled matters. Three further goals in the last twenty minutes did not do Botafogo an injustice on a day they were outclassed.
But there were smiles all around the Engenhão as Fluminense beat Corinthians 1-0 to go fifth. In truth, Flu could have won by a greater margin had it not been for wasteful finishing from the young Ciro.
The striker missed two golden opportunities, first delaying to shoot when he was through on goal, before rounding keeper Julio Cesar only to see his shot cleared off the line. It was left to team captain Fred to net from a free-kick that took a mammoth deflection.
The visitors’ only real chance came in injury-time when Alex headed over from six yards out, but Flu’s showing merited three points and they once again look capable of challenging for honors.