By Jack Arnhold, Contributing Reporter
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – Last evening, March 30th, the streets of Rio de Janeiro erupted in a mixture of joy and frustation when Werley, defender for local club Vasco da Gama, struck his penalty high and wide of the Flamengo goal, thereby crowning the most popular club in the Cidade Maravilhosa champions of the Taça Rio for the ninth time.
After a fairly uneventful first half, Vasco opened the scoring in the ninth minute of the second half with a well-worked goal from a corner kick. Tiago Reis managed to lose his marker and head the ball in from a wicked cross courtesy of Danilo Barcelos. But after the goal set the two teams apart, Vasco failed to make it two and put the game to bed. They wasted many chances and left Flamengo down but not out.
The rubro-negra began to regroup and created a handful of dangerous chances that could’ve drawn them level. However, they had to wait until the dying moments of the game to get on the score sheet, their intrepid attitude rewarded when Uruguayan striker Arrascaeta emerged from a crowded field and headed the ball into the back of the net.
The dismay could be seen on every Vasco player’s face as Flamengo snatched the victory from their hands and led the game into the knockout stage of penalties. Perhaps because the momentum was now on their side, Flamengo seemed to make light work of the shootout, with three conversions and one miss. Vasco only managed to score their first spot-kick, missing the subsequent three and crashing out of the game.