By Robbie Blakeley, Senior Contributing Reporter
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – The first leg of the Copa do Brasil final between Atlético-PR and Flamengo ended 1-1 last night in Curitiba. The draw leaves the two legged final beautifully poised for next week’s return at the Maracanã Stadium.
Two beautiful strikes in the first half were the highlights of a tense game. It was clear neither side wanted to cede the advantage and the second half was a cagey affair with few chances.
Flamengo’s away goal could be vital. If the second leg ends in a 0-0 draw, Flamengo will lift the cup on the away goals rule. Yet in front of their own fans, with the directors expecting a packed house, it is unlikely Flamengo will settle for a goalless draw.
Marcelo opened the scoring for Atlético on seventeen minutes. The forward surged into a central position before unleashing a venomous long range effort that Fla goalkeeper Felipe could do nothing about, with the strike measured at an incredible 126km/h.
Then it took Fla just twelve minutes to get on level terms and Amaral’s goal was every bit as breathtaking as Marcelo’s. Atlético’s midfield failed to close him down and given the freedom Amaral struck a swerving shot into the roof of the net.
Chances were few and far between during the second half but Atlético pressed harder, trying to make their home advantage count. The match ended all square, and Flamengo will enter the Maracanã as favorites to lift heir first national title in four years.
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