By Nelson Belen, Contributing Reporter
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – On Thursday, February 14th, Fluminense defeated rivals Flamengo 1-0 with a dramatic goal in the game’s closing minutes to secure its place in the Taça Guanabara finals.
Last night’s semi-final match had been originally scheduled for last Saturday (February 9th), but was postponed after Friday’s (February 8th) deadly fire at Flamengo’s Ninho do Urubu youth training ground which killed ten people, all academy players between the ages of fourteen and sixteen.
It was an emotional scene at Maracanã before the match as a video tribute honoring the ten young victims was shown, followed by a moment of silence as banners bearing the names of each of the victims were raised to the rafters.
In the first period, Flamengo missed on two early scoring chances as a block by Flu’s defensive midfielder Airton and a superb save by Flu keeper Rhodolfo kept the Rubro-Negra off the scoreboard.
Fluminense, despite being the underdogs going into the match, controlled the ball throughout the first period (sixty percent to forty percent) and also had more chances than their crosstown rivals (five to two), but were also unable to get on the scoreboard.
Both teams’ offensive futility continued deep into the second period until the game’s closing moments. At the 47th minute of the second period, Luciano poked the ball from the edge of the penalty area just past a diving Diego Alves for the game winning goal.
With the win, Fluminense advances to the Taça Guanabara final where they will meet Vasco who won the other semi-final match against Resende 3-0 on Wednesday, February 13th.
The Taça Guanabara is the first stage of the Rio de Janeiro state championship, known as the Campeonato Carioca.
The Taça Rio is the second stage of the Campeonato Carioca. The winners of the Taça Guanabara and the Taça Rio face off in the Campeonato Carioca finals to decide the Rio de Janeiro state champion.