By Nelson Belen, Contributing Reporter
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – With the 2016 Rio Olympics now concluded, the Brazilian sports world turns its attention back to the 2016 Campeonato Brasileiro (Brasileirão) Série A. On Sunday, August 28th, two local teams took the pitch in pivotal match-ups for G-4 (top four) positioning, with Flamengo defeating Chapecoense 3×1, while Fluminense was shut out by Palmeiras 2×0.
The hard-fought victory over Chapecoense propels Flamengo to second place in the standings of the Brasileirão, now in week 22, while Fluminense’s loss drops the club to eighth.
Visiting Flamengo got off to a fast start at Arena Condá in Chapecó when midfielder Diego Ribas, who just recently signed with the Rubro-Negro from Turkish club Fenerbahçe in late July, knocked the ball into the back of the net off a perfect pass from Pará for the game’s opening goal at the nine-minute mark.
Near the end of the first period, after blocking a long shot, Flamengo goalkeeper Alex Muralha failed to secure the ball, allowing an opportunistic Everton Kempes to score off the rebound, tying the game for Chapecoense at the 42nd minute.
The back-and-forth game continued deep into the second period with neither club able to secure an advantage. Finally, the game’s turning point came at the seventy-minute mark when Chapecoense’s Gimenez received a yellow card for tripping Paolo Guerrero in the penalty area.
Flamengo would take advantage as Leandro Damião scored on the ensuing penalty kick to give Flamengo the lead. An insurance goal near the end of regulation by Federico Mancuello would seal the 3×1 victory for the Rubro-Negro, who, at the time of writing, find themselves in the second position in the league standings.
Flamengo will look to continue its march up the standings taking on Ponte Preta on Wednesday, September 7th.
One of Rio’s other clubs in the Série A, Fluminense, also saw action on Sunday, losing to the team ahead of Flamengo in the standings, Palmeiras. Scoring two goals in the first period, from Dudu and Jean, league-leading Palmeiras put the clamps on defensively, stifling Flu’s offense for the entire game.
With the loss, Fluminense is on the outside looking in with regards to the Copa Libertadores. At the time of writing, the team sits at the eighth spot, outside of the G-4 position required to make the tournament.
Fluminense hopes to turn things around against Figueirense on Saturday, September 3rd.
The Brasileirão Série A consists of the top twenty teams in Brazil competing in 38 rounds of games until a champion is crowned in December.