By Robbie Blakeley, Senior Contributing Reporter
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – Vasco da Gama are level with Atlético-MG on sixteen points at the top of the national Brasileirão tournament after round seven. Vasco defeated Ponte Preta 3-2 at São Januário Stadium while Atlético beat Grêmio. Fluminense remain on their coat-tails after beating Nautico and Joel Santana kept the hounds at bay for a little while longer as his Flamengo side overcame Atlético-GO.
Vasco twice came from behind in their 3-2 win over Ponte Preta but needed a penalty fifteen minutes from time. The first half resembled a Ponte onslaught as they repeatedly lay siege to the Vasco goal. They got their reward after a quarter of an hour when Roger beat Felipe and fired beyond Fernando Prass.
Felipe made up for his error by providing the equalizer four minutes later; his cross was converted at the far post by Alecsandro. Ponte played a fluid passing game and on 26 minutes Roger put them back in front. It could have been even worse for Vasco after Nikão hit the post just before the interval.
Vasco were gifted a second goal just three minutes after the restart and as time wore on the Vascaínos repeatedly called for Diego Souza. Cristovão granted their wish and Souza thanked the fans with the winning spot-kick.
Samuel and Diego Cavalieri drew the plaudits as Fluminense defeated Naútico 2-0 in Recife. The young striker got both goals while the experienced keeper made a string of stops to ensure Flu remain the only undefeated side in the league.
In the opening exchanges Cavalieri needed to be at his best as Naútico began at a frightening pace. He made two smart blocks from Souza in the first ten minutes and only the home side’s lack of technical grace prevented them from creating more clear chances.
Naútico continued to look the more dangerous throughout the half. Lúcio, Kim and Souza again all went close, but they couldn’t find a way past the infallible Cavalieri, who resembled a one man wall.
Having been spectators for the majority, Flu opened the scoring on the half-hour. Deco curled in a free-kick and Samuel, unmarked, headed in. At half-time Flu coach Abel Braga reinforced the midfield, bringing on Wallace for Bruno, and Flu’s creativity rose.
Cavalieri was still called into action but Samuel, after one more assist from Deco, silenced the crowd with his second. As the players left the field after the final whistle, Abel singled out the men of the match for putting Flu just a solitary point behind Atlético-MG and Vasco.
A Renato brace saved Joel Santana’s skin as Flamengo beat Atlético-GO 3-2 at the Engenhão. In a match of poor quality, the pressure began to tell on Santana when Felipe gave the visitors the lead.
Renato replied five minutes later and in the second half youngster Adryan’s courageous display steered the Rubro-Negro to victory. He scored the second himself before Renato made sure of the points.
Atlético pulled one back but Fla held on for the points. It is however uncertain whether this success will mean Santana remains at the Flamengo helm, as the club is continues to be linked with Universidad de Chile coach Jorge Sampaoli.