By Jack Arnhold, Contributing Reporter
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – Flamengo are crowned 2019’s Campeão Carioca after defeating Vasco da Gama 2-0 this Sunday, April 21st. With the previous weekend’s match ending 2-0 to the rubro-negro, they could have lost 0-1 to Vasco and still have lifted the cup, but they won in style, repeating the same scoreline to make the overall aggregate 4-0, and claiming their record thiry-fifth Campeonato.
The game began with Flamengo taking charge, with a fast-paced attacking style leading to the first chance of the game, a long-range effort from left-back Renê that went whizzing past the outside of the Vasco goal post.
The favorites continued to apply pressure, finding holes in the Vasco defense. An unnecessary foul on Flamengo striker Gabigol led to an excellent set-piece goal to put Flamengo 1-0 ahead while putting their aggregate up to 3-0 with only fifteen minutes played.
As the game progressed Flamengo kept creating chances down the left wing, with a drilled cross from Gabriel and close-range toe poke from Diego being denied by the always lightning-quick reactions of the Vasco keeper.
The underdogs had to wait until the thirty-third minute for a clear shot on goal, when Pikachu managed to connect with a loose ball, firing into the bottom-left of the Flamengo goal, only to have Renê block the shot.
Three goal-scoring chances fell to Vasco in the space of six minutes. And at the thiry-nine minute mark, just before half time, Lucas Santos had perhaps the best of the lot, with his measured shot looking all but goal-bound if it weren’t for a deflection that sent the ball wide, much to the relief of Flamengo keeper Diego Alves.
If a moment could sum up the first half, it came with the last kick. Vasco player Danilo Barcelos found himself with a shooting opportunity at the edge of the Flamengo area, only to scuff a bobbling ball harmlessly out of play as he held his head in his hands.
Vasco started the second half with the impetus of the first, but unfortunately with same pair of shooting boots on. The first minute of the second half saw Yan Sasse and Marrony cleverly team up, only for the striker to send the ball wide once again.
Flamengo then took the game back into their hands, with Gabigol striking a fierce shot wide after twelve minutes of the second half. Two minutes later he was then denied a goal due to the VAR (Video Assistance Referee) ruling it offside.
With both goalkeepers having a storming afternoon, it fell to Diego Alves to pull off the save of the match, keeping out Maxi López’s close-range effort with nothing more than an outstretched palm. Five minutes later, Fernando Miguel pulled off an almost equally impressive block to deny Gabigol.
However, he could do absolutely nothing about Vitinho’s strike into the top-left corner of the goal, which left the Vasco keeper rooted to the spot and ensured that the game, and the championship, was all but over for the Cruz-Maltino.
Danilo Barcelos then hit the woodwork from a free kick in Vasco’s last chance to receive some sort of consolation. But it wasn’t to be, and the game quickly drew to a close after Werley received a red card in the forty-third minute, leaving the stadium flooded with red and black and shouts of “campeão” ringing around the Maracanã.