By Robbie Blakeley, Contributing Reporter
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – Running a perfect record in the group stage of the Taca Guanabara, Flamengo is set up in a semi-final clash with state champions Botafogo. The 2009 national champions beat a stubborn Resende side on Sunday, knocking them out of the competition and allowing Boavista to take second place in Group A. Boavista beat Nova Iguacu 5-3 to confirm second place.
On a poor day for Ronaldinho, where he resembled the overweight and under committed player Barcelona carried around for a year. It was ex-Fenerbache striker Deivid who spared Flamengo blushes, popping up fifteen minutes from time to score the game’s only goal.
Having already won the group after last week’s matches, this game was clearly more important for Mengo’s opponents, who knew only a win would guarantee their progress into the knockout stages. But Deivid broke Resende fans’ dreams, tucking in Leo Moura’s low cross at the near post from close range to make it seven wins in seven.
Since parting company with coach PC Gusmao after a disastrous start to this year’s Campeonato Carioca, Vasco put an astonishing nine goals past America-RJ on Saturday night, to end this stage of the tournament with some dignity restored. Vasco were 5-0 up at half time and did not let up in the second half, with eight separate players getting on the score sheet.
In Group B, Botafogo will be kicking themselves at missing out on first place after only managing a 1-1 draw against Macaé. The draw means they ceded top position to Fluminense, who will face a considerably easier semi-final match.
Botafogo were guilty of missing a host of chances and coach Joel Santana may well live to rue his side’s wastefulness in front of goal. Robson put the visitors into a shock lead on 38 minutes, before Renato Caja leveled the scores within three minutes of the restart.
Botafogo were without Uruguayan veteran Loco Abreu, but youngster Alex did well in his place, showing his promise with smart runs off the defense and linking up intelligently with the midfield. Bruno, Alessandro and Alex all went close for the hosts before Macaé stung them with a well constructed move down the right flank, deftly finished off by Robson.
No one could argue Botafogo were worth their equalizer when Renato Caja curled in a free-kick after Herrers had been tripped, but their continued carelessness in finishing off chances could haunt them come the end of next week when the semi-finals are played.
Rafael Moura stepped up again to help Fluminense to the top of Group B and a semi-final clash with Boavista after beating Madureira 1-0. The marksman is in breathtaking form, having scored five goals in his last three games on his arrival at Laranjeiras.
After a tough Libertadores game midweek, Muricy Ramalho rotated his squad for Sunday’s match, making five changes, and it took time for the unfamiliar line-up to gel. The game was played in stifling heat and quality was low on the ground as neither side played at a high tempo. But the striker known as ‘He-Man’ saved his side once again, glancing in Conca’s in-swinging free-kick.
Flamengo Vs Botafogo
Fluminense Vs Madureira