By Nelson Belen, Contributing Reporter
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – After two heated battles in the Copa do Brasil semi-finals, two of Rio’s big four, Flamengo and Botafogo, once again went head-to-head on Sunday, September 10th in round 23 of the Campeonato Brasileiro (Brasileirão), Série A, at Nilton Santos Stadium (Engenhão).
After having come up short against the Rubro-Negra in seven consecutive meetings, Botafogo finally came out on top with Roger’s brace giving the Fogão the 2-0 win.
Sunday’s game already marked the sixth between the two crosstown rivals this year. During that time, Flamengo had been unbeaten against Botafogo with three wins and two draws. In fact, the last time the Fogão beat Flamengo was over two years ago, a 1-0 win on March 1, 2015.
As has typically been the case between the two clubs, the game started tight with neither club able to get a firm grip on the first half.
At the nineteen minute mark, Guerrero launched a twisting free kick that looked to be a sure goal for Flamengo except for a spectacular block from a leaping Gatito.
Botafogo then took a shot at the 34-minute mark when Valencia passed a perfect a cross for Roger, but Diego Alves came up with a great save of his own to deny the Botafogo striker.
After a nil first half, Éverton Ribeiro looked to get the Rubro-Negra on the scoreboard right out of the break, but his long range shot was well defended again by a diving Gatito.
Botafogo would finally break the stalemate ten minutes into the half. Rabello’s header off the corner found the post, and an alert Roger headed home the rebound for the game’s first goal.
Then, at the 23rd minute of the half, Botafogo would double its lead. Bruno Silva streaked down the near post and let loose a perfect pass for Roger who back heeled his second goal of the game for the 2-0 lead.
With the decisive lead, Botafogo slowed the pace and thwarted Flamengo’s faltering offense. The Fogão‘s defense held on to seal the hard-fought 2-0 victory.
With the win, Botafogo climbs to the seventh position in the Brasileirão table with 34 points. Flamengo still holds a slight advantage, in the fifth position with 35 points.
Botafogo now sets its sights internationally as the club returns to the Copa Libertadores for a big match against Grêmio in game one of the quarter-finals on Wednesday, September 13th.
Meanwhile, Flamengo turns its attention to the Copa Sudamericana, where the club will face off against Chapecoense, also on Wednesday, September 13th.