By Lisa Flueckiger, Contributing Reporter
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – Football (soccer) club Vasco da Gama beat Botafogo with 1-0 in the first of two games of the Campeonato Carioca final. The only goal was scored by Rafael Silva in the extra time of the second half in Sunday’s game at Rio de Janeiro’s Maracanã stadium.
The decisive goal was marked after a contested game, where the cruz-maltinos had over seventy percent of the ball. Botafogo had started better into the game hitting the goal post after only ten seconds, but soon had to hand over control of the game to their rival, although chances remained scarce in the first half.
In the second half, the 45,488 spectators saw a more animated game, with dangerous attacks on both sides. Bill came close for Botafogo after 53 and 65 minutes and Julio Santos almost marked for Vasco after 60 minutes with a first chance for Rafael Silva shortly after.
Yet, it took until the final minutes of the game, already in extra time, until the young Vasco striker found the net. A free kick by Bernardo somehow found its way through the Botafogo defense reaching Silva alone in front of the goal, where he just had to nick in the ball with his foot to the 1-0 final score.
The advantage of taking home the title of Rio’s state championship now lies with newly promoted Série A team Vasco, as the victory over their city rival means Botafogo will have to score in the return game. In case of a draw in teh second game, Vasco wins the championship. If Botafogo wins the return game with 1-0, the game will go directly go to penalties.
The second leg of the Carioca final will take place next Sunday, May 3rd at 4PM again at the Maracanã.