By Jayme Monsanto, Senior Contributing Reporter
RIO DE JANEIRO – Vasco da Gama fans had one extra reason to celebrate Carnival: their team defeated Fluminense in the Taça Guanabara semifinal and advanced to the next stage of the competition.
The match happened on Saturday night at the Maracanã Stadium, and even though Fluminense was superior the whole time, none of the teams scored in regulation time, and the result was only decided in a penalty shootout. Vasco da Gama was flawless in the shootout, while Fluminense missed a penalty and lost their chance of advancing to the Taça Guanabara final.
Fluminense striker Fred gave the Vasco defenders a hard time, and on the first half he nearly scored at least on four different occasions. Vasco da Gama goalkeeper Fernando Prass put on a great performance and played an key role in his team’s victory. The penalty shootout was balanced, and none of the teams lost a shot until Fluminense’s Alan hit the post when the shootout was 6-5 for Vasco da Gama.
Vasco now awaits the result of the other semifinal match to know who will be their opponent in the Taça Guanabara final. On Ash Wednesday at 9:50PM Flamengo meets Botafogo in the Maracanã Stadium.
Flamengo was state champion in the last three years in a row, and the team’s board of directors announced that a big bonus of up to half a million Reais will be given to the team if they manage to conquest the championship one more time.
If Flamengo wins Taça Guanabara or Taça Rio, the players get a R$200,000 bonus, while the technical commission gets R$50,000. If Flamengo wins the state championship (winning Taça Rio and Taça Guanabara or winning the Carioca final), the prize doubles up.
Flamengo’s midfielder Petkovic will be back on the field in the match against Botafogo. Also known as Pet, the Serbian midfielder got a two-match suspension by the Flamengo board of directors after an episode of indiscipline during the halftime of the match against Fluminense on January 29th.
The Taça Guanabara final is scheduled to happen on Sunday, February 21st at the Maracanã Stadium. Taça Rio kicks off six days later, on February 27th. The winners of Taça Guanabara and Taça Rio play each other in the Campeonato Carioca final, and the winner of that match is the state champion.