By Nelson Belen, Contributing Reporter
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – The 2018 Taça Rio semi-finals kicked off in entertaining fashion last night as Botofogo defeated Vasco 3-2 at Nilton Santos Stadium. With the win, Botafogo is now set to face the winner of tonight’s Flamengo/Fluminense match in the Taça Rio championship final on Sunday, March 25th.
Wednesday’s semi-final match was Botafogo and Vasco’s second meeting in four days. Just this past Sunday, in another entertaining and tight matchup, Vasco edged out the 3-2 win over Botafogo setting the stage for last night’s semi-final.
Botafogo was the first to get on the scoreboard on Wednesday. A beautiful pass from Valencia at the 12th minute led to a perfect header from Brenner to give the Lone Star the early 1-0 lead.
However, the lead would be short-lived as Vasco came storming back only minutes later. Off the corner kick, Erazo pounded a hard bouncing ball past Gatito to tie the game at 1-1.
At the 29th minute, Vasco would once again execute perfectly off the corner as Riascos scored another header to give his team the 2-1 lead. Botafogo would respond at the 34th minute when Luiz Fernandez darted behind the Vasco defense to score the 2-2 equalizer.
Both clubs fought to a standstill until deep into the second period. Finally, at the 86th minute, Rabello headed home the game-winner past a leaping Félix to give Botafogo the 3-2 victory.
“We really deserved the victory. In the previous game and in the first half of today we did not do anything well,” exclaimed Botafogo keeper Gatito. “It would be a dream to win a championship with Botafogo.”
Botafogo now awaits the winner of tonight’s much-anticipated game between heated rivals Flamengo and Fluminense, also at Nilton Santos.
After having finished ahead of the Rubro-Negra in the Taça Rio classification phase, Fluminense only needs a draw to qualify for the Taça Rio final.