By Robbie Blakeley, Contributing Sports Reporter
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – It was a good weekend for Rio’s Carioca football (soccer) clubs in the national Campeonato Brasileiro tournament, as only a last-minute Bahia equalizer against Flamengo prevented four wins out of four. Vasco brushed aside America-MG, whose attention now turns to the first leg of the Copa do Brasil final against Coritiba (Wednesday, June 1st) in the São Januario. Fluminense and Botafogo both got back to winning ways.
Botafogo beat Santos 1-0 to collect their first points of the season. Botafogo took full advantage of a Santos reserve team and Cortes and Everton linked up excellently down the left flank, putting in a succession of dangerous crosses; it was no surprise when Fabio Ferreira gave Botafogo the lead with a first time strike after 36 minutes.
Unhappy with Santos’ dreadful first half display, Ramalho brought on Rychely and Maikon Leite for Alan Patrick and Tiago Alves. The substitutions had the desired effect as the visitors began to take a stranglehold on the game.
Botafogo coach Caio Junior responded by bringing on holding players Cidinho and Caio. The change recharged Botafogo’s batteries, who wrested the game away from Santos and extinguished any hopes they had of an equalizer.
Current state champions Flamengo were left with a bitter taste as they conceded a last minute equalizer against Bahia to draw 3-3. Despite dominating, Flamengo found themselves a goal down after sixteen minutes when Lulinha emphatically volleyed home from ten yards.
Flamengo’s attacking instincts did not desert them and thirteen minutes later they equalized through Ronaldinho. But they found themselves a goal down again as Bahia launched a counter-attack which caught Flamengo’s defense flat footed. Ex-Botafogo man Jobson swept the ball home to send Bahia fans into raptures.
In the second half, the pendulum swung in Flamengo’s favor as goals from Bottinelli and Egidio saw them gain the reward their attacking prowess deserved. And after Bahia midfielder Helder was sent off, Flamengo reckoned the points were wrapped up.
They reckoned without Jobson. In the 89th minute, he raced through yet another inviting gap in the visitors’ defense to score.
Current national champions Fluminense beat Ateltico-GO 1-0 in Enderson Moreira’s final game as coach. Centre-half Leandro Euzebio got the game’s only goal after twelve minutes.
After a nervy opening Fluminense began to compete, thanks to Deco who is beginning to demonstrate the level expected of a Champions League winner. He showed quality and intelligence as the match danced to the tune of his feet and it was from his corner Leandro Euzebio’s goal arrived.
Atletico-GO were unlucky not to have a penalty when Valencia scythed down Marcao. The hosts began to apply more pressure in the second half and on two occasions Flu keeper Ricardo Berna was drawn into action.
Moreira sent on defensive midfielder Fernando Bob to try and regain some composure. The ploy worked as Flu controlled the midfield and stifled play. At the end, all players ran to celebrate with Moreira.
Vasco maintained their momentum with a comprehensive 3-0 win against America-MG. It was the visitors that started stronger, creating two openings in the first ten minutes.
But Vasco took the lead from the penalty spot when Leandro was fouled by Thiago Carleto. Bernardo scored his eleventh goal of the year. The Mineiro side did not crumble and continued to create chances but failed to capitalize.
Two minutes into the second half Enrico doubled Vasco’s lead. The sucker punch knocked the stuffing out of America, whose creativity was dampened. Elton wrapped up victory for Vasco in injury time, who can now approach the first leg of the cup final brimming with confidence.