By Robbie Blakeley, Contributing Reporter
RIO DE JANEIRO – Flamengo held local rivals Fluminense to a draw in a six goal feast on Sunday evening at The Engenhão Stadium, rounding off a week that saw a distinct upturn in the defending champions’ fortunes, collecting four points out of six and finally finding their scoring touch. Fluminense have seen their title challenge take a knock after losing to new league leaders Corinthians in midweek, whilst Botafogo and Vasco da Gama also suffered over the last two rounds, picking up just a point each.
Goiás 4-1 Botafogo
Botafogo had a night to forget as their dreams of snatching second place in the Brasilerãoo were dashed in Goiás. They found themselves two goals down inside half an hour, before Loco Abreu pulled one back just before half time. Botafogo began the second half rejuvinated, enjoying the lion’s share of possession but lacking the killer instinct to make their dominance count. Goiás remained dangerous on the counter attack, and scored two goals in the last ten minutes to seal the win.
Grêmio Prudente 1-2 Flamengo
Two late goals gave Flamengo an unlikely victory as they went into the last five minutes a goal down. No Flamengo striker had found the back of the net since July 21st until Diego Maurício was given space to pick his spot and drill a drive past Giovanni in the 85th minute. Deep into stoppage time, Totó stole all three points for the visitors with a powerful shot from outside the area.
Fluminense 1-2 Corinthians
Corinthians came away from Rio with the points to reclaim first place in the league. After a tight first half they took the lead a minute before the break, Jucilei toe-poking Elias’ cross beyond Fernando Henrique. Coach Muricy Ramalho changed Fluminense’s formation after the break to a 3-5-2, bringing on striker Rodriguinho for defender André Luis but the plan misfired as Iarley put the visitors 2-0 up on 65 minutes. Washington replied for the hosts five minutes later, but Corinthians defended expertly and comfortably saw out the remainder of the game.
Vasco 1-1 Avaí
Vasco drew for the eleventh time this season after missing a barrage of chances to win it. On the offensive from the outset, they were ahead on 24 minutes with Eder Luis crossing for defender Ramon to head home. Three minutes later, the Rio side were awarded a penalty and striker Rafael Coelho stepped up, but his effort was well saved. Fagner and Zé Roberto then both missed gilt-edged chances to seal the points, and they were made to pay fifteen minutes from time when Caio beat Fernando Prass from twelve yards.
Botafogo 2-2 Cruzeiro
Botafogo dominated the first half and went ahead after five minutes with a calmly-struck shot from Alessandro. It looked like Botafogo were set for victory until Thiago Ribeiro was tripped in the area and Montillo equalized for the Minas side. Cruzeiro began to play more confidently, and took the lead fifteen minutes later with another goal from Montillo that fizzed past Jefferson from 25 yards. Five minutes later, Botafogo were awarded a dubious penalty, Maicosuel tumbling under a challenge from Diego Renan which looked to be outside the area. Loco Abreu stepped up and scored his fourth goal in four games.
Internacional 1-0 Vasco
Vasco lost for the first time in fourteen games after missing several chances to take something from this game. Edu gave the hosts the lead two minutes into the second half, finishing off d’Alessandro’s measured cross. Later in the game Jonathan blazed over from just four yards when it would have been easier to score to leave his side to come away with nothing.
Flamengo 3-3 Fluminense
Flamengo and Fluminense played out a fantastic advert for the Brasilerão on Sunday evening. First, Leandro Euzébio gave the Tricolor the lead after eight minutes, heading home Dario Conca’s corner. Flu defender Gum’s failure to shield the ball out of play on 22 minutes allowed Kleberson to cross for striker Deivid, who expertly equalized with a right footed volley and Flamengo were on top when, five minutes before half time, Renato’s corner was allowed to travel across the six yard line for David to slide in at the far post.
Flu striker Washington missed two chances to equalize before Rodriguinho expertly turned his marker and curled a right footed effort into the top left hand corner of the goal. Renato put the champions back into the lead with a right-footed shot from the edge of the area, but Rodriguinho was not finished, pouncing on a loose ball in the area and smashing home to bring his side level again.