By Doug Gray, Contributing Reporter
RIO DE JANEIRO – A fine showing at league leaders Palmeiras on Sunday put Flamengo on the edge of the top four and looking in good shape for a charge at the title with just eight games left to play this season. Neighbours Fluminense did them a favor by holding Internacional to a draw at the Maracanã though the point was not enough to lift them off the bottom of the table, whilst defeat at Cruzeiro did not help Botafogo’s battle against relegation leaving them one off the drop zone in 16th.
Palmeiras 0 x 2 Flamengo
The imperious Petkovic masterminded another Flamengo victory and grabbed all the glory from the two players most had turned out to see play, Adriano and Diego Souza. Both were unusually quiet spectators as the veteran striker stole the headlines with a goal in each half, but it could have been a very different story had Inter taken their chances early on.
Vagner Love was a constant headache for the visitors who had Souza marked out of the game, and he had a good chance after the half hour which went just over, as did a strong header from Robert. But it was Petkovic who opened the scoring, rounding off a fine one-two with a delightful finish into the top corner to give Flamengo the upper hand.
The in-form striker sent another brilliant solo effort just wide in the second half before sealing the tie in unlikely fashion from the corner spot as Marcos flapped in the Palmeiras goal, eventually turning the ball into his own net. Vagner Love could have got his side back into the match late on but blazed his penalty way over the bar to the dismay of the home fans.
Fluminense 2 x 2 Internacional
Inter will be kicking themselves for missing a good opportunity to close the gap on leaders Palmeiras on Sunday against lowly Fluminense, but the Tricolor put in a good showing to twice come from behind and grab a draw. Alan looked sharp early on and narrowly missed the target on a couple of occasions but it was Alecsandro for Inter who scored first, rounding off a good move by slotting the ball past the helpless Rafael in the home goal.
With Fred back in the side Fluminense looked better organised going forward and he fired just over and then wide from good positions before Gum rose to head home a Conca free kick on forty minutes break to make it 1 x 1. Midway through the second period Inter were ahead again with a goal from Marquinhos after he was given too much room on the edge of the area. It looked like that goal would be enough to take all three points until Gum appeared in the penalty area to smash home an equaliser from close range and ruin the visitors’ afternoon.
Cruzeiro 1 x 0 Botafogo
With both sides missing key players it was a chance for the second string to shine, but the game failed to spark into life in the first half, the home side having the better of the period but largely restricted to long range efforts which Jefferson had few problems dealing with in the Botafogo goal.
André Lima and Victor Simões weren’t gelling well upfront for the Carioca side, and it was Thiago Robeiro who showed them the way seventeen minutes into the second half, latching onto a through ball and sending the ball into the roof of the net to make it 1 x 0. That strike proved enough to earn Cruzeiro all three points and put them up to seventh in the league.
The 31st round next weekend will see Fluminense travel to Goiás on Sunday desperate for a win that could see them climb off the bottom for the first time in months, whilst Botafogo host Flamengo in what should prove to be a gripping local derby as both sides push for a win for very different reasons.