By Robbie Blakeley, Senior Contributing Reporter
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – Fluminense got back to its winning ways in the 2013 Campeonato Brasileiro (Brazilian Championship) last night with a 1-0 win over Cruzeiro at the Maracanã Stadium in Rio. A goal from Fred in new coach Vanderlei Luxemburgo’s first game in charge lifted the club out of the relegation zone.
Having missed a penalty at the end of the first half, Fred redeemed himself with his second-half strike to give the Laranjeiras club their first win in six outings. The defeat meant Cruzeiro fell from first to third place in the league table.
Fluminense started the match on the back foot and Cruzeiro wasted several chances to take the lead. Deco, in particular, was off his game for the Carioca club, failing to find teammates with simple passes.
Luan and Mayke caused danger down the flanks for the visitors and striker Vinícius Araújo had two excellent opportunities to break the deadlock. On seventeen minutes, Diego Cavalieri made an excellent close-range save before the attacker hit the post on 28 minutes.
Flu began to improve with the substitution of Deco on 42 minutes. Just before half-time, they were awarded a penalty when Wágner was bundled over in the area.
However, Fred saw his spot-kick saved by Fábio who managed to scramble to his feet to stop the rebound as well. The sides went in at half-time goalless.
After the break, Fluminense upped the tempo and started the second half on the front foot. Sóbis went close with a long-range effort before Luxemburgo sent on two youngsters, Julião and Kennedy.
The latter provided the assist for the winner. Attempting to volley the ball towards goal, Kennedy’s skewed effort found Fred unmarked six yards out to head the game’s only goal past Fábio.
Overcome with relief, the number nine celebrated the goal against his former club, something he had previously refused to do. The fans inside the stadium were euphoric at the final whistle with shouts of “The champions have returned!”
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